The grounds of Balmoral Castle became an outdoor classroom on Friday (3rd June) as 107 primary school pupils from Crathie, Ballater, Braemar, Strathdon and Towie spent the day learning all about the forests and woodlands of the Cairngorms National Park.
The special event for P4-7 pupils was organised in celebration of the United Nations International Year of Forests. Through a series of fun workshops the youngsters were provided with an insight into everything from how a tree works and the wildlife living in our woodlands to forest products, food and responsible recreation in our forests.
‘Celebrating Nature’ is part of the ‘Connect to Nature’ Project – a partnership initiative between the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The day was organised by the Biodiversity Officers at the CNPA with support from SNH, Balmoral Estate, Glen Tanar Estate and Aberdeenshire Council rangers as well as staff from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, North East Scotland Biological Records Centre and the North East Scotland Biodiversity Officer.
Speaking at the event, Justin Prigmore from the CNPA said: “The aim is to highlight to primary school pupils the fantastic and fascinating world of forests and woodlands here in the National Park. Forests provide an amazing habitat for animals but they also benefit us in so many ways, helping to reduce the impact of climate change, providing fuel and building materials for our homes and places to get out and have fun.
“We hope the pupils’ day in the setting of Balmoral Castle has brought them closer to nature and given them a greater understanding of our local woodlands.”
Glyn Jones, one of the Rangers for Balmoral Estate, added: “The kids have had a super time learning about animals, plants and how people use our woodlands. All day they’e been telling me how much fun they’re having, and how much they’re learning at the same time. An excellent day out has been had by everyone.”
Louise Duckworth from Ballater and Braemar Primary Schools, said: “This is a great day for my pupils, many of whom have not been out in the woods on their own doorstep. The pupils are having an enjoyable learning experience that links well with existing work in the school on the Curriculum for Excellence and initiatives such as the John Muir Award and the Ecoschools programme. This is an excellent change to the classroom environment.”