SCHOOLS and colleges across the North West are being encouraged to swap their indoor lessons for a new outdoor learning experience at Delamere Forest.

The initiative has been developed by the Forestry Commission, which owns Cheshire’s largest woodland area, to take children out of the conventional classroom setting and into the natural world to help them learn more about the environment and its significance to everyday life.

Climate change, sustainability and ecology are three of the key topics covered by the programme, which works with all ages from pre-school to university students as well as adults and families.Š

‘Lessons’ cover curriculum-based topics such as science and geography, as well as wider personal, social and health issues relating to the environment.Š

The Education and Learning programme aims to teach ‘pupils’ the role of trees, woods and forests in mitigating the effects of climate change, the ecological and environmental benefits of trees and woodland, and how wood can be used as a sustainable material and energy provider.

All visits led by school staff are free, but ranger-led trips can also be booked.

A Forestry Commission spokesperson said: “Delamere Forest’s varied landform and species, including the flooded forest of Blakemere, are ideal for all kinds of outdoor learning.”

The park’s education ranger Catherine Welsby added: “We want to get more people in touch with current environmental issues.

“First hand experience of the natural world is the key to generating lifelong positive attitudes towards the environment.ŠWoodlands can offer an accessible, safe, varied and stimulating setting for learning, play and adventure for all ages and abilities.”

The Forest comprises over 950 hectares of mixed deciduous and evergreen forest, open grassland and wetlands, and is a haven for wildlife, including the small tortoiseshell butterfly, greater spotted woodpecker, white faced darter dragonfly.