From community groups and charities to businesses and schools, we believe that everyone has a role to play in helping nature recovery across Greater Manchester. We’ll be shining a spotlight on the passionate individuals who are already leading the way – our Local Nature Champions.
Av Gurwicz is Urban Forestry Assistant at City of Trees.
Tell us about your project.
I work for City of Trees, the community forest rooted in Greater Manchester – we plant trees, we look after trees and we promote a culture of trees. We believe in trees to create better, greener places, boost health and wellbeing, enhance green skills and to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency, making the region greener one tree at a time – from urban areas, to on the edges of the region.
How did you first get involved in nature recovery?
It started when I was on work placement with the Prince’s Trust programme in 2022. I was working at Wardley Hall as a Horticultural Assistant – I really enjoyed working outdoors and found it helpful and relaxing. Once I finished the programme, I kept volunteering at Wardley Hall, helping them with their forest school and developing their woodland areas. While I was volunteering, I started looking for a job in the environmental sector and through the One Manchester Green Employment and Skills programme I joined City of Trees for three months. I have now been at City of Trees for nine months, with a new extended contract for a further 12 months.
During this time, I have learnt a great amount of how we are combating the climate crisis by planting trees throughout Greater Manchester. I was motivated to get involved because of the impact I would be making through planting trees and maintaining woodlands for people and wildlife. Working as an Urban Forestry Assistant, I have a great sense of achievement because I can see the difference we are making – seeing all the trees I’ve planted thrive in many locations across Greater Manchester.
What do you think nature offers Greater Manchester?
Nature in Greater Manchester offers people in largely built-up urban spaces the chance walk about and get a break from their busy day-to-day lives. Despite Greater Manchester’s location nestled between national parks, many people within the city region do not have the opportunity to travel, so nature within the city region offers an escape for people to enjoy. Access to nature along roads, walkways, urban parks and other areas can brighten people’s mood and have a real impact on their everyday lives. This can help those working in the city to enjoy their lunch breaks in a greenspace filled with trees and wildlife.
Even if you’re indoors or potentially in one of the many high rises around the region, seeing more nature and trees from your windows can be extremely therapeutic. This is what I think nature offers the people of Greater Manchester. Nature also offers us space to enjoy wildlife – along with other organisations across Greater Manchester we’re aiming to create more spaces for wildlife to use and this will hopefully increase biodiversity across our region. Climate change is a huge problem for us but by increasing the number of greenspaces and enhancing existing spaces we can help to create more resilient and biodiverse cities.
Why do you think it’s important more people get involved in nature?
We are always saying that there’s not enough people getting involved with nature and I think this is important because it can be so beneficial to our health. The NHS is now doing green social prescribing as an alternative to medication, and being in nature is found to be beneficial for peoples mental and physical health through having an active lifestyle through walking, planting trees, gardening, volunteering etc.
Furthermore, people like to feel ownership of their local spaces and by getting involved in nature and their local and in turn they may have more respect for their land. This could contribute towards a reduction in anti-social behaviour and issues such as litter and fly tipping. With greater involvement from the public, we can plant more trees in urban areas which don’t have a great amount of tree cover – this is important as areas with low tree coverage may suffer from issues such as being warmer. Another reason it is important for people to get involved in nature by planting trees is that trees act as a natural barrier to protect peoples houses from flooding, particularly in areas close to watercourses.
I have heard from numerous people that just going out on a short walk can brighten their mood and increase productivity. People can get out in nature by experimenting in their gardens planting veg and other plants. People can also volunteer by helping with local organisations undertaking activities such as planting trees, managing local parks and woodlands.
What do you think is the single greatest priority for nature recovery in Greater Manchester?
I think the single greatest priority for nature recovery in Greater Manchester is getting the word out there, that organisations such as City of Trees are working to create change and how beneficial it is for you to help us make the change. This will then encourage people to get involved, and other local organisations, and will then provide us with the local connections and support to make things happen towards a brighter and nature filled Greater Manchester.
And if time and resources weren’t an issue, how would you address that priority?
If we had unlimited time and resources, I would advertise in local newspapers and community groups like Facebook, sharing what our goals are and how you can get involved. It would also be great to have more of a presence at festivals and large events discussing our aims with groups of likeminded people spreading the word. It would be great to do even more outreach events, talking to community groups across Greater Manchester, running education sessions within schools and showing them how amazing urban nature can be and that its right on their doorstep!
How can people get involved in your project?
Here at City of Trees we are always looking for people to come out on events with us to help us to plant trees and restoring nature for the benefit of wildlife. You can get involved with us at www.cityoftrees.org.uk – that’s where all our upcoming events are listed, from tree planting to nature walks. All our events are for free for the benefit of the community.
You can also sign up to our newsletter, where we send updates of our upcoming events, or contact us directly via email@example.com if you have land or know of a local space that could benefit from tree planting.
Find out more about our plan for nature recovery
Greater Manchester is currently developing its Local Nature Recovery Strategy, which will set out a blueprint for a more liveable city-region, with fairer access to green space for all.Find out more including ways to get involved on our nature recovery webpage.