‘Winter warmer’ to toast the benefits of Bridgend’s woodlands

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The Bridgend Forest Education Initiative (FEI) group has just the answer to those post-Christmas blues – a “winter warmer” get-together around a crackling log fire in the woods.

The group is made up of local teachers and business people in the Bridgend area with a keen interest in the timber industry and woodland education.

With the guidance and support of Forestry Commission Wales, the group meets regularly to increase understanding of the environmental, social, and economic potential of trees, particularly among young people.

Now, with the tinsel packed away for another year, the group wants to recruit new members by inviting them to a mug of hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows and cakes around a log fire in Rockwool Woodlands for Learning Centre, Bridgend on Tuesday, 10 January, at 4.15pm.

Group secretary and Forestry Commission Wales education officer Geminie Drinkwater said, “This is an opportunity to meet like-minded people who have a keen interest in the timber industry and outdoor woodland education, with the possibility of creating new business links.

“We hope the winter warmer session will encourage new members to the Bridgend FEI cluster group and bring in yet more skills to the group which members can then pass on to the children and young people they work with.”

The Bridgend group is one of 23 FEI cluster groups all over Wales made up of a network of people interested in woodland-based learning including teachers, Forest School practitioners, woodland owners and timber industry representatives.

Groups represented in the Bridgend cluster include Forestry Commission Wales, local schools, Keep Wales Tidy, Bridgend County Council, Valley and Vale Community Arts, Bridgend Foundation Phase Team, BTCV and Groundwork.

Each cluster group develops local programmes for children and young people in its area, helped by members of the Forestry Commission Wales Woodlands for Learning (WfL) team.

As well as engendering an appreciation of the environmental and economic potential of woodlands, the groups also promote the benefits of trees for our emotional and physical well being.

Geminie said, "Basically, the winter warmer event will be an FEI meeting with a twist, with a view to strengthening relationships in the group and attracting new members.

“Ideally, I’m hoping to attract people from the timber industry, independent education providers and so on, to try to diversify the make-up of the group which is made up primarily of teachers.”

She said the event will be an opportunity to reflect on the group’s achievements in 2011 and focus on the challenges for 2012.

“Last year, the group enjoyed two workshops, one on green woodwork and one on outdoor drama, courtesy of funding provided by FEI Wales, and visited different outdoor learning locations across Bridgend, sharing examples of best practice.”

For more information about the winter warmer event, contact Geminie Drinkwater on 0300 068 0253, mobile 07748 336629, email

Caption: Members of the Bridgend FEI enjoy the outdoors around a woodland camp fire.


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 Forestry Commission Wales 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 about your local FEI group, visit  or contact Kim Burnham, FEI Co-ordinator for Wales, at

For more information on woodlands for learning in Wales, contact the Woodlands for Learning team on 0300 068 0300 or visit and follow the links to the Woodlands for Learning pages.

Media enquiries to Forestry Commission Wales Press Officer Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email