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Teenagers pondering their futures after leaving the classroom behind were handed a glimpse of a world of work that helps to make our environment a better place.
The children, aged between 13 and 15, were introduced to the huge variety of jobs working with woodlands during the Forestry Commission Wales Children’s Conference held at Garwnant Visitor Centre, just outside Merthyr Tydfil.
Environment and Sustainable Development Minister, John Griffiths, dropped in on the conference and welcomed the opportunity it gave pupils to consider a career in forestry.
He said, "I'm very pleased to see this event taking place to give young people an insight into the breadth of careers available within the industry and for them to gain some hands-on experience.
“This type of information is vital to broaden young people’s career choice and to encourage them into the wider rural industry."
The conference, which was supported by the local Education Business Partnership, was organised by the Commission’s Woodlands for Learning (WfL) team, which has hosted similar events every year since 2002.
Children from four secondary schools in Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taff took part in workshops run by independent forestry-related companies and learnt why wood is a sustainable building material, how to use a bow drill to light a fire and how to make products from green wood – as well as the qualifications needed to work in the industry.
FC Wales staff opened the children’s eyes to the different types of jobs involved in managing the 126,000 hectares (311,000 acres) of woodland owned by the Welsh Government.
They learned about the role of wildlife rangers who manage the different types of animals in our woodlands, how to plan woodlands to help combat climate change and what it’s like running a busy visitor centre like Garwnant.
The children were also taught how to estimate the volume of timber from a single tree – a pebble in the ocean for a timber industry that supports more than 4,000 jobs in Wales and is worth £400 million a year to the Welsh economy.
During the day-long conference, the children got a close-up view of the battle FC Wales is waging to halt the progress of a deadly tree disease called ramorum disease of larch.
The fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora ramorum that causes the disease can be spread easily and the children cheered excitedly as a large, diseased Larch tree was felled with a chainsaw in a bid to contain the outbreak.
Sue Williams, head of the Woodlands for Learning team, said, “The felling of the tree was an unexpected bonus but was a striking illustration of the variety of career opportunities available across a broad range of professions.
“The conference was hugely successful and gave the young people present food for thought at a time in their lives when they are considering how to make their way in the world.”
The schools taking part in the conference were Hawthorn High School in Pontypridd, Pontypridd High School, Cantonian High School in Cardiff and Y Pant Comprehensive School, Pontypool.
Picture: Forestry Commission Wales's Juliette Staples with pupil from Hawthon High School using a shave horse and draw knife to shape a component part for a bird feeder
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales’ Woodlands for Learning Team has run a Conference every year since 2002, with the delegates alternating each year between children and adults with an interest in woodland education.
The WfL 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.
The companies who helped to run workshops during the day were Dragonfly Creations, Dryad Bushcraft and FLS Treecare.
For more information on this year’s Children’s Conference, contact Sue Williams or Karen Clarke on 0300 068 0300 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com