On its 20th anniversary, the Forest Education Initiative (FEI) is going back to its roots with a visit to BSW Timber Group’s sawmill in Dalbeattie, the very place the initiative was officially launched back in the 1990s.
Since then, the FEI has helped thousands of children across Britain appreciate and understand the importance of trees, woodlands and forests in today’s society.
As part of their studies, over 500 pupils from Dalbeattie Primary School have visited the sawmill to learn more about its timber operations.
Speaking at a conference in Dumfries to celebrate 20 years of the FEI, Sally York, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Education Policy Advisor said:
“As part of our day’s celebration of FEI it is really fitting that we return to BSW Timber Group’s sawmill as this is where it all began two decades ago.
“The FEI movement started back then because there was a real concern about the lack of information young people were receiving about trees. Pupils also had very little opportunity to combine first-hand experience of woodlands with learning about the environment.
“FEI has gone a long way to changing this around and today our 80 cluster groups are networked into the education system across Britain.
“With the help of many partners and enthusiastic businesses like BSW Timber, we are helping teachers spread the message how trees affect our daily lives, not only from an environmental viewpoint, but also in economic terms.
“Our aim is to continue to build on the successes, grow stronger and support schools and colleges with their forest education.”
Another key success of FEI is the popular Forest School programme which is growing in numbers all the time. This part of the initiative turns local woodland settings into the classroom for small groups of pupils.
The networking event at Mabie Forest is bringing together people from all over Britain to share best practice.
A number of workshops are being held during the event, including the visit to the sawmill in Dalbeattie which has recently benefited from an £8million investment.
Ian Murchie, Mill Manager said, “We are thrilled to be involved in FEI’s 20 year celebrations. The programme plays a key role in introducing children to local businesses, showcasing future career opportunities and giving them an understanding of the sustainability of using locally grown timber for construction, garden and packaging products.”
For more information on the Forest Education Initiative log on to: www.foresteducation.org
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2. The Forestry Commission is a keen supporter of the Forest Education Initiative and along with other partners, actively supports the initiative through funding, staff support and time.
3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.