PROJECT Forest, a programme for transition year pupils, was launched at St Patrick’s Comprehensive School in Shannon this week by RTÉ personality Éanna Ní Lamhna and Minister of State Tony Killeen. The programme is designed to take a broad approach to learning about trees. Its objectives are to create an understanding of the nature of woods and forests, to create an awareness of the role of forests in human existence, to encourage a sense of ownership of the forest environment and to encourage appreciation of wood as a material.
Ms Ní Lamhna was involved in preparing Project Forest and she said it will be very useful for pupils. “We wrote it for transition year students and for fifth and sixth year students as well, so there would be a whole lot of information about Irish trees when they go to the website (www.projectforest.ie) for information.
“It’s useful for students of biology, students of geography and art students as well. We can see all about Irish trees, where they grow, what animals live in woods, whether there are flowers or birds around them, all that kind of thing.”
She said that pupils who follow the programme will see how important forests are in combating climate change.
“As you know, trees take in carbon dioxide from the air and hold it in their stems and roots and the more forests we have the better. Of course, the way the world is going we’re knocking more of them and their importance should be made known.”
Deputy Killeen said the programme offers a lot to young people.
“It’s an extraordinarily positive programme, particularly in view of the fact that it’s directed at transition year students and it may be the only opportunity that they’ll have during their secondary school years to look at issues like forestry and nature.
“The new programme ties in very well to some of the subjects, particularly geography and biology, so there’s a practical element as well. One thing we haven’t really concentrated much on in relation to forestry is the amenity value but this programme is very positive in that regard.”
Principal Morgan Heaphy said that St Patrick’s Comprehensive School was delighted to be associated with the launch of the project, as it continues its tradition of being leaders in education innovation.
He added that the project would contribute greatly to the overall development of pupils.
Project Forest is co-ordinated by the Tree Council of Ireland and was funded by the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture.