In August 2020 Durham County Council established the Durham Woodland Creation programme; an initiative to plant a tree for every child of school age in the county, which equates to around 69,000 trees.
In total the council wants 140,000 new trees to be planted; 10,000 trees in each of its 14 Area Action Partnerships.
At Dene Academy the youngsters got mucked in and joined in the scheme with some gusto, working with OASES (Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists).
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Pupils have planted a new woodland, pond area and school garden hedge. Over a two-week period they have planted cherry, hazel, goat willow and silver birch, all of which will provide vital habitats and food for wild animals living in the area.
They will also help with flooded ground and provide a woodland for the school and local community to view and enjoy.
Every pupil labelled the tree they planted with their name and now look forward to watching them grow in the years to come.
English teacher Amy Nichols said: “I think it is a brilliant initiative, not only for the environment, but also to help teach students a new skill and get them outdoors and working together.
“It was fantastic to see just how proud students were once they had planted their trees. I even saw some students working together to create a worm sanctuary, saving any worms they came across when digging; so heart-warming.”
Year 7 student Craig Shotton agreed : “The idea was interesting and fun. I hope to see a wonderful forest growing from the saplings. It would be nice to do more to help the environment, but with what Dene have conjured up, I think we can do more.”
Bay Kraken from Year 9 said: “Planting the trees themselves was a great experience because it helps to provide oxygen for the world obviously, but also great scenery for the grounds of the school. I would like to do more things like this.”
Year 7 pupil Abigail Perry said simply: “‘It was fun for everyone to do.”
OASES are working with at least 70 schools in the council’s three-year tree planting programme.