Lying just south of The River Irwell, Outwood Park was previously an old coal mine, closing in 1931 as a result of an underground fire. In 1997 Bury Council took over the running of the site and created Outwood Forest Park, converting the land into a public green space and planting some 25,000 trees. The park now covers 60 hectares and hosts an array of important habitats, including young broadleaved woodland, grassland, heathland and ponds.
As part of the Resilient River Valleys project, Outwood Park in Bury is undergoing a huge transformation, thanks to funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund and the hard work of staff and volunteers from City of Trees, with support from project partners Groundwork Greater Manchester and Mersey Rivers Trust.
Through both volunteer and contractor work, the project seeks to:
- Improve the resilience of the grassland and heathland
- Improve the structure of the young woodland on-site
- Improve water quality within the site’s ditches and drains
In addition, the project aims to improve the public use of the site; installing signs, street furniture, web-based information and interactive trails which connects more people with nature.
In May 2022 volunteering activity at Outwood Park started with a bash, a balsam bash that is! Several events were hosted to help manage Himalayan Balsam, an invasive species which smothers much of the woodland floor and outcompeting local flora.
Alongside local residents, Veterans group Walking with the Wounded volunteered at the park to help clear as much balsam as possible.
In August 2022, volunteers supported the first heathland management session, removing bramble and young sampling trees that were outcompeting the beautiful heather that covers sections of the site.
In just 4 months, 92 volunteers have delivered a total 285 hours, improving 3.27ha of the site!
Volunteering events at Outwood Park run through to February 2023 providing local people with the opportunity to get back into nature, learn new skills and meet like-minded people, whilst also reinstating and improving the important habitats that exist on site.
If you would like to volunteer at the site, please visit https://www.cityoftrees.org.uk/events
Connecting more people with nature
In addition to the volunteer activity, City of Trees have lead guided walks through the park, explaining the sites rich history and diverse botany to local people. Participants were encouraged to download and use the iNaturalist app during the walk, which helps them identify local flora, whilst also improving record keeping for the site.
Incredible Edible Radcliffe, who have an allotment on site at Outwood Park, have engaged with the Resilient River Valley’s project, working in partnership with City of Trees to host a local school at the allotment where the children learnt about woodland management and urban gardening. The children also got stuck in with some balsam bashing as part of the The Big Balsam Bash 2022.
The project has gained support and traction from several local community groups and organisations including the Nationwide Cycling Academy, the Bury Voluntary, Community and Faith Alliance and Growing Together Radcliffe.