TEACHERS across Cheshire are being helped to educate the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a national project to plant a million trees by 2020.

As part of its Trees for Learning project, The Mersey Forest, which has woodlands in Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich, has created a toolkit filled with ideas to get children out of the classroom and into the woods for a whole new learning experience.

And with new research showing that children who grow up with greener surroundings are 55 percent less likely to develop a mental disorder later in life, it’s a timely resource full of practical and creative ways to spend time learning in a natural environment.

Trees for Learning is a major project delivered by England’s Community Forests to plant trees within school grounds and local green spaces. It forms part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra) pledge to support schools to plant one million trees by next year.

Steph Hepworth, The Mersey Forest’s Trees for Learning Project Officer, explained: “This project gives children the opportunity to learn about and from trees and the aim is for every child to develop a connection to nature and begin to appreciate both the value and the beauty of trees.

“We know that being outdoors is good for us and new research shows that growing up with access to green spaces is vital for children’s mental health.

"Thanks to this project we're helping a new generation of children to access the natural environment, and by supporting outdoor learning as part of their education, we’re not only nurturing conservationists of the future, we are hopefully contributing to making them happier and healthier too.

“As a collective England's Community Forests have already planted more than 100,000 trees with schools and now we want other schools to share in some of the activities we’ve developed along the way."

Since the project launched in 2016, more than 100,000 trees have been planted in schools across England and The Mersey Forest has planted more than 20,000 and counting at schools across Cheshire, Warrington, Halton, St Helens, Wirral and Liverpool.