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Children studying forestry as part of their schoolwork got up close to the action when they watched a tree being felled in Nantyr Forest, near Wrexham.
The group of 50 seven to 11 year olds from Ysgol Cynddelw, in Glynceiriog, visited their local Welsh Government woodland to mark the official opening of Nantyr’s new Forest School site.
The pupils were no strangers to the woods, which had become an important part of the school’s daily life since it entered into a partnership with Forestry Commission Wales to give the children an appreciation of sustainable woodland management.
Seeing the potential educational benefits, teachers Hannah Parkinson and Beth Evans qualified as Forest School Leaders in 2008 and 2009, and a site was set up for them within Nantyr Forest.
Hannah said, “Since beginning Forest School, I’ve seen different sides to the natures of many pupils. Many show me an outgoing, more physical and playful nature not always evident within the classroom.
“Pupils seem to enjoy the teacher interaction, coming to me for chats and so on, because they just don’t get this sort of opportunity in the classroom. One boy disengaged with school would always ask me to help him or give him ideas.”
However, when the trees surrounding the original site were due to be felled as part of the ongoing cycle of forestry, a new site had to be found where the children could continue their outdoor development.
The new site, in another part of the woodland, gives the children a long-term base and has been specially prepared by Forestry Commission Wales with the children’s needs in mind, complete with log circle and materials for the children to enjoy activities such as shelter building.
Hannah said, "Pupils seem genuinely grateful for the opportunity and whole experience. It's fun to watch team building groups, and it’s always interesting to hear the pupils' comments at the end of a session.”
To celebrate their move to a new site, the children experienced woodland management at first hand as they witnessed a tree being felled by Forestry Commission Wales forester, Dei Williams, who explained about the protective equipment he has to wear and answered questions about his work.
The children were challenged by members of the Forestry Commission Wales Woodlands for Learning team to identify some of the trees in the woodland, which included noble fir, sitka spruce, larch, Scots pine, birch and rowan, as well as the odd holly and one or two young oaks.
Putting their classroom learning into practice, the budding young foresters carried out a survey of the woods and learnt that increasing the variety of tree species will make our woodlands more resilient to the effects of climate change.
Sue Williams, Woodlands for Learning Team Leader, said, “You can’t beat these hands-on experiences to show our next generation how the way we manage our woodlands today can offer them a better future tomorrow.
“We’re very pleased to see a successful partnership go from strength to strength. Hopefully, one day some of these children will go on to pursue a rewarding career in forestry.”
Caption: Forester Dei Williams discusses woodland management with pupils from Ysgol Cynddelw.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
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.
For more information on woodland education, contact Sue Williams on 0300 068 0109, mobile 07789 923830, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Visit News@FCWales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com