Belhaven Centenary Woodland
Belhaven Hill School initiates new ‘tree per child’ scheme
Belhaven plants native woodland to celebrate Centenary landmark and join 'Queen’s Green Canopy'
One of the most important aspects of our vision for Belhaven is that the children should learn to shape the world around them. Via a combination of cutting-edge digital skills and heightened awareness of their own ability to influence their immediate environment by learning outdoors, we hope that the children educated at Belhaven will be both willing and able to make decisions that change the world for the better.
To support this, our new Sustainability Policy has four key aims.
- To minimise the procurement and use of non-renewable and environmentally unfriendly resources (which includes new builds and refurbishment of existing buildings) and to encourage recycling throughout the whole school.
- To raise awareness among pupils and staff about key environmental issues and by doing so encourage them to take an active role in environmental projects.
- To develop relationships with external organisations to promote environmentally friendly behaviour both within and outside of school.
- To encourage and inspire children and staff to participate in public initiatives such as Green Flag awards and other projects that will educate and inform best practice.
The decision to change the lighting in the school to LED is one of the ways in which we are addressing the first aim of the policy and this process will begin in January 2023. The decision to plant a woodland area with native saplings addresses the remaining three.
The saplings, locally sourced from Cheviot Trees, consist of a mixture of Beech, Oak, Silver Birch, Crab Apple and Aspen. A design for the plantation sees the trees curve towards a focal point, lined along a winding path between two gates built into a deer-fenced rectangle, all of which has been provided thanks to a generous donation. In the south-east corner, a mound of earth will provide a look-out point and guard a camping area for the children. The land itself, the crucial first ingredient, has been donated to the school by the McNicol family at Castleton Farm, North Berwick: the plot is blessed with one of the best views in East Lothian over the Bass Rock and Tantallon Castle.
Every child in the school was given his or her own sapling and instructions as to how to plant it, before protecting it with a tree-guard attached to a wooden stake. These stakes were then named (some very extravagantly) as everyone took ownership of their part in a collaborative project that will see an area for observation and education develop over the decades to come.
Coming, as it does, at the end of the Platinum Jubilee year for the late Queen, the decision to plant the wood at the start of the 2022/23 planting season was inspired by a conversation with Pauline Jaffray, one of East Lothian’s Deputy Lord Lieutenants until her death from cancer earlier this year.
The influence of these two women on those under their care was remarkable and so the woodland will be dedicated as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy, something for which Pauline was a great advocate. Partnerships with local schools and wildlife organisations to allow for combined use of this area will enhance Belhaven pupils’ education as well as adding to the thriving community spirit. As part of our stated aim in the school’s improvement plan and part of our cherished status as a Green Flag and Plastic Free school, this project has enormous potential and is something of which everyone involved should feel extremely proud.