Friends of Princes Park (FOPP) tree maker post project, funded by Liverpool City Region Community Environment Fund, is based in Princes Park, in the heart of Liverpool 8 a diverse but deprived inner-city area.
Princes Park is well used by many different communities and during the Covid pandemic has been used extensively by local people to exercise, rest, picnic and enjoy the wildlife.
FOPP is a group of park users and local people who work in partnership with Liverpool City Council to maintain and improve the park for the benefit of people and wildlife. Over the last 15 years we have planted more than 4000 trees, and we have increasingly focused on improving biodiversity in the park and encouraging people to better understand it.
People often ask us about the beautiful trees we have planted, and we wanted to make this information easily available to all who have access to the internet, especially to young people including local school pupils. The Park is surrounded by schools with many others nearby, and we want encourage young people to understand the trees and appreciate their value.
Over the last six months FOPP volunteers, nearly all of whom are local residents, have installed an oak marker post by each specimen tree (150). Many people are already using this information. We have also made a tree map which is now on our newly refurbished notice board. The project is ongoing.
We have had positive feedback from local schools about our next action, which is to make a guide for schools as to how they can use the tree markers for educational purposes, for example by learning about different species or playing guessing games with the trees and then looking up the information.
A sample comment (from the headteacher of Belvedere Academy next to the park) includes: “The tree marker post project looks excellent. Staff and pupils from Belvedere use the park all the time for sport and for wellbeing and recreational activities - we could not operate without it; and I know that all members of our community will enjoy learning more about the trees within the park. The pupils are increasingly aware of issues around climate change and are committed to make a difference to their world - I know how much they value green spaces.”
Now, in addition to producing the education pack for schools we will be increasing the information on our website about the wildlife associated with the trees and organising a series of walks to look at the trees and wildlife in the park.
We would encourage anyone who wants to do something similar to visit our project and see what we have done and then talk to us about the practicalities.
We have always been keen to let people know the identity of the trees we have planted. In the past we tried producing a black & white map with a key – however many people find maps difficult to read so this was of limited help. We also organised themed tree walks visiting various specimen trees – those with good autumn colour; those producing edible fruit and nuts etc – again to introduce people to the trees we have planted.
We then tried attaching QR codes to individual specimen trees. The QR code for each tree was unique and linked specifically to information about that tree on our website. The QR codes were printed on thick paper, laminated and then stapled to a post beside the tree. At that time most of the trees had protection (wire mesh) round them fixed to posts. The QR codes were not robust enough – they got accidentally damaged or vandalised.
We needed a much more durable solution, which led to our project to install engraved marker posts. We couldn’t easily engrave a QR code into a wooden post, so instead we gave each tree a three-digit reference number engraved onto each post, alongside the QR code. We then attached a printed notice to each code explaining how to find out more information about that tree, by scanning the QR code (if you have a smart phone) or by noting the tree's number and identifying it using the map and key displayed on each of the noticeboards in the park.
Some of the posts have recently been pulled out of the ground and we are in the process of concreting those posts back in – so they will be much more difficult to remove.
We realise that some people don’t find it easy to navigate their way round our website – so we are in the process of putting together a step-by-step guide on how to get from the QR code on the marker post to detailed information about that tree.
Usage of our website and interaction with our social media.
Number of tree walks held.