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While many teenagers spend hours gossiping online, Nathan Sutcliffe is busy spreading a message that could create a better future for the children of tomorrow.
As one of the Welsh Assembly Government's Climate Change Champions for 2010, Nathan, 16, has embarked on a personal mission to promote the role that trees can play in helping to reduce climate change and its effects.
With the aid of Forestry Commission Wales Woodlands for Learning staff, Nathan is aiming to help plant 100,000 trees over the next 12 months, thereby helping the Assembly Government towards its goal of creating a new national forest.
As part of his task, Nathan will create an area of new woodland in Coed-y-Brenin, just outside his home town of Dolgellau within the Snowdonia National Park, which he will design himself with the help of local FC Wales foresters.
He is also planning to write to all schools in Wales to encourage them to plant trees in their grounds.
Nathan said, "I've always had an interest in trees and I'm using this as the focus for my work as a Climate Change Champion.
"I'm going to work with Forestry Commission Wales to plant at least 100,000 trees across Wales. I've planted around 3,500 so far and I'm hoping that my role as a Champion will help to fulfil my target and preserve Wales’s native woodlands."
Nathan is one of six young people selected by the Welsh Assembly Government as Climate Change Champions to spread the word about how people can take simple steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Already, he has spent a day with Helen John of the Woodlands for Learning team and Bruce Theobald of FC Wales's business arm, Wales Harvesting and Marketing (WHaM), discovering what happens to trees once they are planted.
He saw how trees start to lock up carbon after about 15 years, how this carbon is then stored when the timber is used for paper and furniture, and how the trees are then replaced with saplings to continue the sustainable carbon storage cycle.
The project forms one part of a range of measures that the Assembly Government is considering to reduce emissions arising from land management and agriculture following the publication of an independent report.
It will also help implement the Assembly Government’s objective of expanding woodlands in Wales by 100,000 hectares in the next 20 years. It will also show what can be done to preserve and extend the native woodlands which are such a valuable natural resource for Wales.
Sue Williams, leader of the Woodlands for Learning team, said, "We're well used to talking to children of all ages about the many benefits our woodlands can bring to society, so we are delighted to help Nathan spread the word about how trees can mitigate the effects of climate change."
During his time as Champion, Nathan will be keeping a diary which will feature on the FC Wales Woodlands for Learning web pages at www.forestry.gov.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
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.
The 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.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales