Cash boost to set up woodland ‘classrooms’

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20 JULY 2011NEWS RELEASE No: 14807

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Two woodlands in North Wales are to be transformed into outdoor learning areas where the natural world can be used to unlock children’s potential beyond the four walls of their classrooms.

Two new Forest School sites will be set up in the woodlands around Llyn Brenig, west of Ruthin, and in the grounds of Ysgol Bryn Hedydd, near Rhyl, thanks to a grant from the Forest Education Initiative (FEI), which aims to promote the benefits of trees and wood products among young people.

A grant of £1,500 will be split equally between Becks Fowkes and Lisa Desmond, who will use the windfall to complete their Forest School training and establish new sites at the two locations.

Becks and Lisa are part of the Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire FEI cluster group, whose application for grant aid was one of several successful bids from north and mid Wales in the latest round of funding given by Forestry Commission Wales.

The Commission’s Woodlands for Learning team administers FEI, which brings together teachers, Forest School practitioners, timber industry representatives and environmental educators who appreciate the value of woodlands as a stimulating outdoor learning environment for everyone.

FEI was set up in Great Britain in 1992, with the first co-ordinator being appointed in Wales in 2000. Since then, no fewer than 23 FEI cluster groups have been established all over the country as the appreciation of the environmental, social and economic potential of trees, and of the link between the tree and everyday wood products, has spread.

The local cluster groups bring a variety of people together to develop and deliver woodland-based learning, including many teachers and educational practitioners who have trained to become Forest School Leaders.

The latest award of just under £30,000 in grants to help further develop Forest School in Wales will enable a total of 34 teachers to train as Forest School Leaders over the next year.

The grants, distributed among 18 cluster groups throughout Wales, will also provide funding for kit and support equipment to help set up new sites, so that the new Leaders will be able to put their skills into practice.

The Woodlands for Learning team’s Kim Burnham, who sat on the judging panel for this round of FEI grants, said, “The potential to use woodlands to enhance the formal education of our children is now firmly acknowledged and competition for the grants was fierce.

“The applications were of an extremely high standard and we’re confident these grants will help FEI cluster group members to develop exciting ideas to bring woodland learning to many more children and young people in Wales.”

The Woodlands for Learning team pumps around £30,000 every year into FEI in Wales and every pound is at least match funded, if not exceeded, by funds and resources from other sources.

As well as this special round of funding, there are three FEI funding rounds held throughout the year – in February, June and October.


Forestry Commission Wales’s Woodlands for Learning team delivers woodland based learning experiences throughout Wales, supports the development and delivery of Forest School and facilitates the Forest Education Initiative on behalf of its partners.

FC Wales puts between £30,000 to £40,000 each year into the FEI partnership fund, which is available to all 23 FEI cluster group members in Wales.

Forest Education Initiative aims to increase the understanding and appreciation, particularly among young people, of the environmental, social, and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests and of the link between the tree and everyday wood products. It brings together teachers, Forest School practitioners, timber industry representatives and environmental educators.

For more information about FEI and your local cluster group, go to or contact Kim Burnham

For more information on Forest School go to and follow the links for Learning or contact Carol Travers at

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email