It’s the fifth year of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s initiative, which encourages primary pupils to learn about tree species, both in the classroom and while out and about.
Five types of native broadleaved tree are being distributed to schools by DEFA. They include ash trees that are free of the disease that has hit the headlines recently, as they were imported well before the outbreak.
Teachers’ activity packs show pupils how tall the trees will grow and how to measure the height and age of a tree. Pupils will also learn about seeds, leaves, pests, diseases and planting.
Five hundred pupils from 12 schools will be bussed to Conrhenny in Lonan to plant their trees, under the supervision of DEFA’s forestry team, between 4th and 8th March 2013. Their saplings will add to the 2,000 already planted by schools.
The site at Conrhenny was specially selected as the Children’s Wood as it’s relatively flat and sheltered by established conifers on three sides. The children will be planting hardy native species suitable to the peaty ground, including oak, downy birch, alder and rowan as well as ash. It’s hoped children will return in years to come to see the saplings grow.
Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, Department political Members Tony Wild MLC and Juan Turner MLC and Brenda Cannell MHK, Member for Forestry with DEFA, were at Fairfield Junior School in Douglas today to launch Trees for Life 2013.
As excited pupils took delivery of their saplings, Headteacher Ian Walmsley said:
‘It was Albert Einstein who said “the only source of knowledge is experience”. By providing our Year 3 pupils with the experience of planting saplings and giving them the opportunity to see the saplings grow over time, the pupils will more fully appreciate the importance of trees and the need to respect the green areas within our communities.
‘The activity pack supplied by the DEFA complements the Living and Growing element of our curriculum and will further enhance pupils’ understanding of this area of learning. Hopefully the direct involvement in tree planting will encourage our pupils to return to the woodland and develop a greater connection with the Manx countryside.’
Minister Crookall commented:
‘Trees for Life is a great way of encouraging children to learn about their environment in a hands-on and fun way. Children taking part this year will place their saplings alongside those already growing, adding to this fantastic amenity. By working through the activities in the classroom, it’s hoped children will learn something about the trees they will be planting and which will eventually make up their woodland.’
Mrs Cannell said:
‘Since my first discussions with forestry staff about the creation of a Children’s Wood in 2008, which led to the first phase of tree planting in 2009, I am delighted to see the development of the Trees for Life scheme and to see that it is now a firm part of the school calendar. Practical learning exercises like this form a vital and memorable part of children’s school experience and help encourage a love of our beautiful Manx countryside.’
The land originally earmarked would have been fully planted by 2016 but Mrs Cannell revealed:
‘We are looking to allocate more space, to be able to continue the scheme well into the future.’
Photos: TOP - from left, Eve Mulligan, Gracielle Cagadas, Sophia Reid and AnnMary Thomas, all seven, with their saplings. BELOW - Year 3 pupils with, from left, Graeme Watson, Access and Recreation Officer, Forestry Amenity and Lands Directorate, DEFA; Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children; Brenda Cannell MHK, Member of DEFA for Forestry; Tony Wild MLC and Juan Turner MLC, Members of the DEC.
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