Paul Nolan OBE

Paul is an honorary fellow of LJMU, an award bestowed for his outstanding work protecting and enhancing the natural environment across the Liverpool City Region and beyond.

For more than 20 years, he has been Director of Mersey Forest, a growing network of woodlands and green spaces across Cheshire and Merseyside. Under Paul’s leadership, the partnership has planted more than nine million trees – equivalent to five new trees for each person living in the area – secured tens of millions of pounds of investment in local green spaces and held more than 40,000 community events.

LJMU has worked closely with Paul for a number of years, his expertise supporting the development of our successful Forest School at I.M. Marsh and, now, the Outdoor Learning Area in the gardens of the John Lennon Art and Design Building.

Mersey Forest is also a key partner in our Natural Curriculum, a learning concept based on outdoor education and the benefits it brings to children’s development, wellbeing and resilience.

Paul and his team played a major role in the delivery of the Liverpool City Region Year of the Environment, alongside LJMU and other partners in 2019. The year-long series of events and activities showcased the work taking place across the city region to look after our environment and increase awareness and understanding of green issues.

That year, Paul was awarded an honorary fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University for his commitment to outdoor learning and the promotion of sustainable green spaces.

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

– Professor Phil Vickerman speaking in 2019 during the oration for Paul being inducted as an honorary fellow

Educated at Brunel University in London, Paul was awarded an OBE for his services to forestry in 2015.

“The Mersey Forest team’s collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University has a 25-year history. Together our projects have been instrumental in promoting sustainability and environmental awareness.

“The team’s focus on identifying and developing sustainable, impactful interventions to benefit a variety of health markers and education outcomes using a range of outdoor settings and approaches. Our Action Research activity has promoted knowledge transfer, the realisation of impact from research and enhancement of professional practices.

“Together we have looked at research on Forest School - exploring levels of physical activity, wellbeing and children’s psycho-social development. We have also explored the health, wellbeing and social value of community assets, including initiatives such as those to maintain green spaces, develop allotment groups and promote productive gardening.

“Brownfield land restoration, the development of natural capital assessment processes and the development of the Natural Curriculum Hub - all point to the strong partnership that has been created. And there is still lots to do!”