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Funding Boost for Environmental Education in The National Forest, Thanks to Rolls-Royce

Thursday, 21st October 2010

The Environmental Education Project, based at Rosliston Forestry Centre, South Derbyshire, is the result of a partnership between Rolls-Royce, the National Forest Company (NFC) and South Derbyshire District Council (SDDC).

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, is Derby's largest private sector employer, and has supported the Environmental Education Project since 2000.  The company's recent announcement extends its commitment to the project until 2014, and secures environmental education work in South Derbyshire for the foreseeable future.

The project enables local schoolchildren and disadvantaged children from schools in and around the Forest to experience and learn about the natural environment, often changing the way they think and relate to what they see around them.  Activities include mini beast hunting; how trees grow; leaf identification and measurement; pond dipping; and link with curriculum subjects from science and maths to art and literacy.  Each year hundreds of children also plant trees to help create new woodlands as part of tree planting campaigns in The National Forest.

Last year alone 3,895 children benefited from these experiences. Since 2000, 36,921 children have taken part in environmental education activities at Rosliston Forestry Centre, thanks to the successful partnership with Rolls-Royce.

Kate Allies, Environmental Development Manager, South Derbyshire District Council, said: 'Our partnership with Rolls-Royce has enabled us to extend the services we can offer and has also broadened our horizons, as project staff get the opportunity to work with and learn from Rolls-Royce staff.  We are delighted that the partnership will move forward for another three years, and are working on ideas for joint project work and new initiatives in South Derbyshire, The National Forest and beyond.'

The Environmental Education Project also works with adults through lifelong learning activities and it runs or facilitates a number of wildlife and environmental groups. The project runs the Wildlife Watch Club; it is a major partner in the South Derbyshire Environmental Forum; it runs extensive activities linked with National Science Week; and the bat and moth walks are always popular! Schools workshops with River Walton, the then poet laureate of Derbyshire, resulted in the establishment of the poeTree trail, to encourage Forestry Centre visitors to explore the woodlands more, and discover things they might otherwise have missed.

Sue Anderson, Community Liaison Officer, National Forest Company, said:  'Rolls-Royce's long-standing commitment to environmental education and The National Forest has enabled us to develop a creative approach to using the Forest as an educational resource.  Many individuals, communities and organisations directly and indirectly benefit from this fruitful partnership.’

Rolls-Royce also supports Conservation Task Days, when teams of volunteers from the company help create new habitat areas to improve biodiversity and provide areas for school groups to study. A team of graduate trainees and apprentices have recently started work to create a camera obscura at the Centre, a small building with a special lens or telescope enabling close-up views of the surrounding area and the night sky. This exciting innovation will be unique to this region.  

Nicola Swaney, Education Manager, Rolls-Royce, said: 'Rolls-Royce recognises the vital importance of enthusing young people about science, technology, engineering and maths and we support a range of education outreach activities in those subjects. The Environmental Education Project run at Rosliston Forestry Centre and supported by Rolls-Royce is a great example of a project that sparks children's interest, enthusiasm and knowledge about the environment and the world around them. We also encourage and support our trainees and employees to get involved with community projects like Rosliston as development opportunities.'