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Royal Forestry Society Excellence Awards

The Royal Forestry Society Excellence Awards 2018 are looking for  the very best in projects run by schools, colleges, universities, and other recognised education and training providers across the West and South West of England – from Cheshire to Cornwall.

Rachel Thomas the RFS Excellence in Forestry (EiF) Co-ordinator says:

“The RFS Excellence in Forestry Award is a great opportunity to showcase to the forestry sector, and to a wider world, and the many excellent  education and learning projects  are vital for ensuring a thriving future for forest management.” 

The awards will be presented at the National Arboretum at Westonbirt on 13 July 2018.  The closing date for entries is noon on Tuesday 6 March 2018.

More details are available here, and you can find case studies based on previous winners here.

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Young People out in the Woods

Over the last year, we have worked with 10 secondary schools across Avon and taken 150 young people with a range of physical, learning and/or behavioural needs to visit a local woodland to learn about the woodland environment and acquire new skills. We would like to thank the Ernest Cook Trust which made this work possible.

We have offered a range of activities tailored to the particular needs of the young people involved. At an activity in Leigh Woods, young people made woodland percussion instruments, autumn crowns and woodland flags. We hired a Mobiloo (a mobile toilet with hoist and changing table), widening the range of people who attended. Activities for other schools were more practically focused, including woodland conservation work.

The project, which is part of our wider Woodland Wellbeing programme was a great success, with quotes from teachers including: 

 ‘Being in the woods for a morning had a hugely positive impact on the whole group: pupils and staff. The sounds, sights, textures, creative activities, feeding the robin, created that sense of awe and wonder which is not measurable, but so important for wellbeing. It energised and relaxed pupils and staff reported the benefit of this. We’d definitely like to be able to do it more often.’

‘I just wanted to let you know how much the groups that came to the woodland experiences with you, enjoyed themselves. The first group came back so excited really enthused and wanting to do it again on a regular basis. The activities you organised were absolutely brilliant and everyone said how wonderful you and everything was.’

The Ernest Cook funding has now ended, but we will apply for other grants to apply this best practice more widely in the area.

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects, Outdoor Learning, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , |

China to fell 3 million trees

The Times reports that China plans to cut down more than three million trees in order to rid key ecological sites of non-native species.  For example, black poplars, introduced from Europe for the paper industry, will be felled around Dongting Lake in Hunan province which is a flood basin for the Yangtze River.  The lake was once a habitat for migratory birds, but the region became an important economic hub in the 1980s.  Over time reed beds and trees were cleared, wetlands were drained and in some places the lake was walled in.




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Tree Power

Tree Power is an education programme for schools that supports teachers and schools to inspire new generations about the local and global importance of trees and forests through a combination of global and outdoor learning.  The first Tree Power Teachers’ Resource Pack provides Key Stage 2 teachers with 8 interlinked sessions to deliver with their class. It is a cross-curricular resource and will help primary teachers to deliver a range of curriculum elements in a creative and engaging way.

Tree Power is about:

  • both the local and global importance of trees and forests
  • creating powerful learning experiences for children through practical immersion in woodlands and forests and sharing of learning between schools in Africa and the UK
  • real life stories about the role of trees and forests in livelihoods and cultures
  • the use of trees and forest resources and the UK’s impact on global deforestation

Its objectives are to

[1] enable children to explore the role of trees and forests in environmental, economic, social and cultural terms, and to explore the causes of deforestation, and its impact on the environment, farming, climate change, and livelihoods.

[2] engage children as local guardians of trees (through tree planting and care projects) and as global guardians of trees (through taking action against deforestation and irresponsible consumption of tree products).

You can download the Pack here



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Building Resilience in South West Woodlands

Plantlife has been awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop ‘Building Resilience in South West Woodlands’, a project that addresses the conservation challenges faced by the South West’s internationally important Atlantic Woodlands, such as those found on Exmoor, Dartmoor, North Devon and Cornwall, and the Quantock Hills.

Through the Future Scientists Programme, children in primary and secondary schools will be able to develop and take part in ‘citizen science’ activities, to help research and monitor these important habitats possibly leading to a presentation of findings at a Future Scientists conference.

If your school or centre is interested in taking part or finding out more, you can complete a short survey to register your interest and tell Plantlife about the opportunities you are interested in.  You can also contact

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Time running out

Time is running out for ancient woodland says the Woodland Trust, adding that habitats are disappearing before our eyes.  The Trust says:

More than 700 ancient woods are under threat right now from houses, roads, quarries and railways (such as HS2).  They can never be replaced, yet development projects are still allowed to nibble away at their edges, cut them in half or destroy them altogether.  In autumn 2017 we had a unique opportunity to demand better protection for the ancient woods and trees we have left.  You helped us challenge Government and ask ‘is this the kind of country we want to be?’  Across the UK government departments had major policy decisions to make.  You helped to influence the ministers who run these departments to ensure the loss of ancient woods and trees becomes unacceptable.   Whilst we recognise the need for investing in infrastructure, we also believe that ancient woodland loss and damage is avoidable. We want to see development projects that respect the value of woods and trees. House building, transport links and thriving businesses need not come at the expense of irreplaceable natural assets.

There’s more here, including a map.

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The Earth Day Network

The Earth Day Network says that although, since 2010, it (with our help) has planted over 15 million trees in 31 countries “we” have got to do much more.  It points to a report published in the journal Science on September 28 which shows that deforestation and land degradation are increasing faster than reforestation.  68.9% of overall losses from the net release of carbon in our atmosphere comes from deforestation, and new forest growth has not kept up.  Scientists tested this theory by taking a new approach.  Previously, the carbon from tropical forests was measured by estimates from satellites that analyzed the change between two different time periods as well as the biomass density of forests. This time, scientists mapped out current aboveground carbon rates in order to estimate the data over a 12-year period.  They found that on every continent, deforestation canceled out the effectiveness of the trees in tropical forests.  It isn’t that reforestation is contributing to more carbon in the environment, but that the positive effects of reforestation are exceeded by the impacts of excessive logging and deforestation.

The net loss of tropical forests can be broken down into these major percentages – 59.8% in tropical regions of America, 23.8% in Africa, and 16.3% in Asia.   In fact, the carbon released annually from forest degradation is greater than the emissions released from all vehicles in the United States each year. Emissions from tropical forests need to be reduced so that we can restore forests and their role to store carbon, and help keep global temperatures from rising too high.  Most of the hands-on research for this study was carried out in South America, specifically the rainforests of Brazil. They found that net loss in aboveground carbon decreased during 2004-2012 when the policies on illegal deforestation were stricter. Since protections were reduced in 2013, carbon net loss in Brazil has steadily increased.  Tropical forests do have the power to decrease the large amounts of carbon in the atmosphere, and by minimizing emissions through ending deforestation and degradation, we can move towards a safer and more sustainable future.

Earth Day Network wants us to help them reach its goal of planting 7.8 billion trees — one tree for every person on earth — in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020.  It asks us to support the Canopy Project.

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Slowing Pine Weevil progress

Natural Resources Wales has embarked on an environmentally friendly programme to tackle a pest that lives on conifers: the pine weevil.  NRW is to spray microscopic Nematode worms into and around conifer tree stumps to combat the pine weevil.  The work starts in the Tywi Forest, near Llandovery in Powys before moving northwards to the Hafren Forest, and finishing in Clocaenog Forest in Denbighshire.  The total area covered will be nearly 500 acres (~ 276 football pitches).

Neil Muir, Forest Manager for NRW said:

“Pine weevils can have a devastating impact on young trees. We are trying to move increasingly towards using this biological control method to combat them and create more resilient forests. The nematodes eat the weevil grubs tackling the problem at source. Reducing the overall population of weevils in the forest block which will reduce the damage to young trees and create a more resilient forest. We will monitor the work closely to see if the method can be applied even wider in future, cutting down further on the use of chemicals.”

See the CJS website for further detail of this and other conservation news.


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Trees for Life

Trees for Life has launched an appeal to save the ice age heritage of Scotland’s national tree  – the ancient Scots pines across the Highlands of Scotland – from becoming the last generation in a lineage of trees dating back to the last ice age.  Through its Caledonian Pinewood Recovery Project, the conservation charity wants to help restore 50 areas of remnant and neglected pinewoods – mainly made up of lone, ancient ‘Granny’ pines which are over 200 years old but dying as they stand, with no young trees to succeed them.  The fragments – scattered over a large area – face growing threats from overgrazing by deer, tree diseases and climate change, and are at risk of disappearing forever over the next few years. If they are allowed to die, the extraordinary wildlife dependent on them – such as crossbills and capercaillie – will be lost too.

Thanks to support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Trees for Life has already raised £150,000 for the ambitious project. It now needs to raise at least £20,000 from the public to be able to start the work.  Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive, said:

“The Scots pine is Scotland’s national tree and symbolizes the Caledonian Forest – but the last fragments of these ancient pinewoods are dying. Without action, the chance to bring back the wild forest could slip away forever, with only the skeletons of these special trees revealing where a rich woodland once grew.”

See the CJS website for further detail of this and other conservation news.

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