Friends of the forest
Friends of the forest
With help from the National Lottery Fund, and as part of last year's BBC Breathing Places, the Friends of Blackley Forest have transformed an urban woodland into a nature reserve for people to enjoy wildlife closer to home.
Blackley Forest was planted by Manchester Corporation and local residents in 1953, becoming the first true community forest. The site has become a valuable community and wildlife resource ever since and was turned into a local Nature Reserve in June 2005 by English Nature and Manchester City Council.
Community group, the Friends of Blackley Forest, responsible for the management of the forest, is putting its Lottery funding to good use, providing a safe environment for people to go and enjoy the woodland area.
“With the money we have received, we’ve created a website, produced ten thousand leaflets to increase awareness of the nature reserve, and we are organising an open day in the forest for local community groups,” says community member Jerry Sorfleet.
“It has helped people to feel safer while using the forest because more people are going into a woodland area.”
Bird watching in Blackley Forest
A breathing place
As part of BBC Breathing Places, a project to get people involved in nature, the Forest will host a number of activities throughout the year.
“Breathing Places is vital in helping us increase the awareness of how urban wildlife is important to the wellbeing of any local community, for the relief of modern day stresses without the need to travel miles out into the open countryside,” explains Jerry.
“It is also important that schools and local community groups can find out more about the beauty of nature on their own doorstep.”
As well as litter picking, tree planting and bird boxes, you can visit the forest to find out more about the wildlife that exists there.
“Without doubt, our bat walks through the forest during summer are becoming more popular, “says Jerry.
Bat tours in the forest
“People seem to want to learn more about these creatures. Armed with special bat detectors, we can hear and see the bats as they hunt for their food. It is so easy and it’s a brilliant way to look into another world at the end of our road.”
Jerry says working with the community is the key to improving the environment in which we live.
“Working with local groups actively involved in improving their own areas has proved to be a vital element in city wide initiatives to improve the environment in Manchester.”
Come along to the Manchester Springwatch Festival on June 9 where you can meet lots of friends of groups - you might even want to join one yourself.
You can also find out more about the type of things you can do to help nature, whether it's in a forest like Blackley or in your own back yard! Find out more about the day at:
last updated: 18/10/07