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A local woodland is helping to steer at risk children in Caerphilly away from a life of crime.
Forestry Commission Wales has joined forces with the Cynon Valley Crime Prevention Association to keep children in Newbridge Comprehensive School’s inclusion unit on the straight and narrow.
Children aged 11 to 16 are trying their hand at being a forest designer and creating a plan for the future of Coed Cilonydd, an Assembly Government woodland just across the road from the school in the Ebbw valley.
They are researching tree species, deciding on what type of recreation they want to enjoy in the woodland and what type of timber they’d like to grow for commercial purposes.
It’s all part of the Pupils Understanding Problems In their Locality (PUPIL) scheme, which aims to build young people’s self-esteem and give them a better understanding of their responsibilities.
The scheme helps to raise children’s awareness of community issues by giving them hands on experience which, it is hoped, will also improve their job prospects.
As well as creating a design plan, during the 12-week term the children will survey the flora and fauna in the 35-hectare woodland’s conifer and broadleaf areas to compare the variety of species and identify the differences.
Their investigation into their local woodland will culminate in a bushcraft day, when they will build woodland shelters, try out some foraging and learn how to manage a fire safely.
FC Wales community ranger Emma Louise Felkin said, “Learning about trees, woodlands and timber and the many benefits they provide will help the children to appreciate the value of woodlands.
“By encouraging these young people to become actively involved in the area around them, we hope it will instil a sense of pride in their environment which will help them to lead better lives.”
Coed Cilonydd can be seen all over Pantside and is a mostly non-native conifer woodland which is being returned to native broadleaves, such as oak.
Jo-ann Banner, working for Cynon Valley Crime Prevention Association on the PUPIL scheme, said, ”Getting the children to become involved in the life of their local woodland is the ideal way to engender a community spirit.”
The Newbridge inclusion unit takes children from all over Caerphilly.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About 14 per cent 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.
For more information on Coed Cilonydd, contact Emma Louise Felkin onm02920 886863, mobile 07824 857541, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com