Eco-Conscious youngsters in the Forest of Dean have come together to celebrate the launch of a new environment programme, marking the occasion with a dam building activity and guided tour of Forestry England’s Greathough beaver enclosure. 

Coleford Army Cadets and 1st Guardian Scouts- as well as youth groups representing Blakeney, Coleford and Raurdean- are the first to sign up for the Forest of Dean Youth Environmental Award pilot project, which aims to educate more young people about the natural world and challenges it faces. 

The initiative is in collaboration between the Forest of Dean District Council and Forestry England, and inspired after a local cadet leader, 2nd Lt Sarah Stokes, reached out to the two organisations after reading bout the national Eco-schools programme to enquire whether anything similar existed for out-of-school groups.

The upshot has been a programme designed specifically for the district’s youth groups which provides a syllabus around which groups can explore different environmental topics while receiving mentoring advice and support along the way. 

Councillor Jackie Fraser, cabinet member for environment and biodiversity at Forest of Dean District Council, said: “We’re delighted to launch this new initiative in partnership with our colleagues at Forestry England in such a beautiful and fitting spot in the Forest and we look forward to supporting our five pilot groups in their journey through the programme.

“Human activity is having an alarming impact on the natural world, so we need to protect it. Pollution, litter, loss of natural habitat and over consumption are all things we need to tackle as a society if we are to succeed. The award not only invites young people to look at how these global issues are impacting here in the Forest of Dean and to take positive action, but also encourages them to see what’s happening elsewhere to tackle these problems.”

Leoni Dawson, Community Ranger for Forestry England and one of the award’s co-ordinators, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the council on this very exciting project. We hope the award will inspire young people to become more interested in the natural world, get involved where they live and become ambassadors for the environment in the future. I am looking forward to working with the youth groups, providing opportunities for them to experience our work in the forest, and seeing how they personally develop over the course of the project.”

Each group will explore the six key topics outlined in the syllabus: climate change, global citizenship, wildlife and biodiversity, respecting where you live, our shared forest and healthy living. 

Upton successful completion of the 12-month programme, the pilot groups will reunite to share their experiences and receive their Forest of Dean Youth Environmental Award, with individuals and their personally achievements also being recognised. 

Youth groups wishing to find out more and to express an interest in joining the second phase of the award programme should email: [email protected]