A project has been launched in mid Wales to give young people the opportunity to develop countryside and land management skills and to find out what it might be like to work in one of the many industries linked to woodlands.
The Branching Out/Egin project is being co-funded by Forestry Commission Wales. It will deliver a programme of hands-on taster sessions for disadvantaged young people aged 16-25 in local nature reserves and community woodlands in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
Participants will learn how to manage woodlands, from taking first thinings, fencing, ditching and maintaining footpaths to installing bridges, boardwalks and other facilities to improve access and boost visitor numbers.
Nature reserves managed by the Wildlife Trusts of South and West Wales at Teifi Marshes in north Pembrokeshire, Castle Woods at Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire and Coed Penglanowen at Nanteos, Ceredigion are all set to benefit as the participants learn how to undertake countryside and woodland management tasks.
Community woodlands are not missing out either, as young people in Ceredigion will get the opportunity to improve their skills at Coed Pen yr Allt, near New Quay and Coed Tamsin, near Aberystwyth.
Those taking part in the programme will be able to gain Open College Network (OCN) qualifications which can count as credits towards further qualifications or an apprenticeship.
Roz Owen, Woodlands for People Policy Advisor, Forestry Commission Wales, said, "Wales’s woodlands offer a stimulating outdoor learning environment for people to develop practical new skills.
"We are delighted to support the Branching Out/Egin project which will connect disadvantaged young people to woodland near them, whilst helping them to gain new skills and consider a career in the woodlands or a timber-related industry.
"There is a wealth of research that shows access to, and activity in, green spaces and woodland has a beneficial effect on people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing and this project will contribute towards many of the Welsh Assembly Government’s objectives for improving health, wellbeing and skills."
Branching Out/Egin will be delivered by Tir Coed, a charitable organisation established in 1999 by an alliance of countryside organisations, including Forestry Commission Wales, to promote the benefits of woodlands throughout Wales.
Gwyneth Davies, Tir Coed’s Development Officer, said, "With a growing recognition of the need for more vocational training programmes, there has never been a better time to introduce young people to the benefits of learning in and about the natural environment.
"Tir Coed is delighted to have secured financial support from Forestry Commission Wales, through European-funded programmes, as well as organisations in the public and voluntary sectors, to continue its work with young people in rural areas of Wales.
"Our main aim through the Branching Out/Egin Project is to enable young people to develop the confidence and skills to follow pathways to employment and become active members of their community."
Branching Out/Egin runs in mid Wales from 2010 to 2013 and aims to benefit 120 young people. For more information, see www.tircoed.org.uk.
Tir Coed is looking to extend Branching Out/Egin to the Heads of the Valleys Strategic Regeneration Area, and is seeking to build partnerships and networks over the next couple of months, working closely with Forestry Commission Wales’s Heads of the Valleys Project Officer, Aaron Fortt.
Photo (courtesy of Tir Coed): Branching Out/Egin participants in Castle Woods at Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire (left to right: Support Instructor, Jo Steadman; Ray Miller; Mark Miller; and Instructor, Jamie Miller)
NOTES TO EDITORS
Tir Coed is a charitable organisation, established in 1999 by an alliance of countryside organisations, including Forestry Commission Wales, to promote the benefits of woodlands throughout Wales. Its aims are to develop, promote and encourage the provision of woodland-related facilities, in the interests of health and social welfare, and to offer educational and recreational opportunities for individuals in rural Wales who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, mental or physical disability, financial hardship or social circumstances. For more information, see www.tircoed.org.uk.
The Branching Out/Egin project builds on the success of Tir Coed’s WICKED Programme (Woodland Initiatives – a Catalyst for Kids Education), which Forestry Commission Wales also part-funded.
The project is aimed at young people in mid Wales who are disengaged and those not in employment, education or training (NEETs). Tir Coed will work with secondary schools, Pupil Referral Units, Youth Offending Services, The Prince’s Trust, Careers Wales, Jobcentre plus, Youth Services and Drop-in Centres to engage with marginalised young people who would like to work in the outdoor environment and who are identified as being in need of targeted support.
It is part funded by:
- the Forestry Commission Wales
- the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Assembly Government, being a component element of the Countryside Council for Wales' Communities and Nature strategic project. The European Regional Development Fund is part of the £3.4bn Structural Funds programmes 2007-2013 aimed at creating economic, social and environmental improvements for people, business and communities across Wales. For more information visit http://www.tircoed.org.uk
- the European Social Fund programme – Engagement Gateway, which is managed by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Mary Galliers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0300 068 0057.