Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Paul Nolan

Oration

Presented by Phil Vickerman

Paul Nolan
Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have the pleasure in presenting Paul Nolan for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

In this important year for the Liverpool City Region - as it marks ‘the year of the environment’ in 2019 - it is fitting that we are recognising the outstanding contribution that Paul has made to the world around us - not least the green infrastructure work and forest school movement he has been engaged with for two decades.

As this year got underway, Paul made a pledge that in 2019 Mersey Forest would be ‘planting a tree for every child born in this year.’ His wish at the start of the year was that at ‘the end of this year we don’t forget about this and embed it for the long term.’

Paul has been Director of Mersey Forest for 20 years, a growing network of woodlands and green spaces across Cheshire and Merseyside, which is 25 years old this year. He has played a leading role in the development of Forest School Movement and alongside his Mersey Forest colleagues has been actively involved in vitally-important issues such as climate change and water management, health, biodiversity and woodland culture.

Under his leadership, Mersey Forest has a long list of notable achievements, including planting three times more trees in this area than is the average across England, doubling local woodland from 4% to 8% and working with more than 500 landowners in the last 10 years and more than half of schools in the area.

It is a testament to the work that they and others have done in bringing environmental and forestry issues to life that a recent survey showed that 65% say the local environment has improved thanks to their work.

During this time, the team and partnership has planted 9 million trees across Merseyside and North Cheshire, secured £41m in investment in local green spaces, and held 40,000 community events.

The Mersey Forest started back in the early 1990s, when twelve areas of England were chosen to be the focus of long-term tree planting programmes to improve the local environment for the benefit of people, wildlife and the economy. The largest of these designated Community Forest areas covers more than 500 square miles of Merseyside and North Cheshire and was named The Mersey Forest.

Mersey Forest plays a key role in the promotion and provision of Forest School and outdoor learning across the region which links into the DEFRA 25 Year Plan for the Environment and the Department for Education’s focus on offering a more broad and balanced curriculum in schools.

In 2019, Mersey Forest, has played a lead role in the Liverpool City Region Year of the Environment, as co-sponsors and co-partners. This series of events and activities throughout the year aims to involve all types of people across the City Region to improve the natural world.

Kicking off this year of activities, City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said that it was “an opportunity for the Liverpool City region to show what we have to offer to the wider world. The year of the environment will encompass everything from the water that we drink to the air quality that we breathe.”

Paul’s leadership is playing a vital role in this effort.

Paul went to Brunel University in London and got a Master’s degree in Forest Products Technology - gaining a distinction. In 2015, he was awarded an OBE for his services to forestry.

Paul has been described as a ‘model forward thinking professional, both strategic and pragmatic, plus a good communicator and networker, who delivers results and through his personal vision, drive and skills has brought significance lasting positive changes to the landscape and communities of Merseyside and Cheshire.’

Here at LJMU we are deeply proud of our connection with Paul and Mersey Forest. Our work together has rightly received extensive profile throughout the institution. The partnership between LJMU and the Mersey Forest has been in place for 20 years, which has seen a wide variety of successes, including the establishment and development of the LJMU Forest School, within our School of Education.

LJMU is leading the sector in providing Forest School training and research and with the support of Paul and the Mersey Forest acts as advisors on the development of teachers and activity to develop the primary science curriculum.

Paul is a leader; a visionary and a champion for engaging young people in outdoor learning and issues affecting our environment.

In recognition of his personal commitment to outdoor learning and the promotion of sustainable green spaces, it is with great pleasure that I present Paul Nolan for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.