Young environmental reporters praised in Wales

Secondary school pupils in Wales have have claimed awards for reporting on local environmental issues. Welsh minister for the environment and sustainable development, John Griffiths, presented school pupils with certificates on 19July, at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells. The children had been nominated as the national and international winners of the Young Reporters for the Environment programme, for writing articles that addressed environmental concerns in their area.

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is an international programme owned by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), which operates in 23 countries worldwide. The Welsh competition is exclusive to secondary schools, inviting pupils to investigate a local environmental issue, produce a journalistic report or photograph and then report on the findings.

The pupils had a choice of reporting on one of eight categories, which included Biodiversity, Agriculture & Nature, Coastline, Climate Change, Cities, Waste, Water and Energy. When the reports were submitted in April, a jury comprising of professional journalists was assembled to judge their work.

The Welsh project, which is managed by Keep Wales Tidy and funded by the Countryside Council for Wales, has produced two winners out of the eight subject categories for the second year running.

Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd in Bridgend successfully tied first place in the Biodiversity category, while Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Gwynedd won the Coastline category with ‘Is pollution damaging our coastline?’ However, the YRE trophy went to Glyncoed Comprehensive for its winning report ‘Biodiversity or not biodiversity?’, which came first place in the Welsh awards.

“The time has come for us to make up our minds and act now”, the Glyncoed Comprehensive pupils wrote in their report, “Our generation must think about the generations that will follow. What an absolute crime it would be if some species of insect, plant and animal were simply pictures in books.”

In addition to their certificates, the pupils also received tickets to attend the Royal Welsh Show, as well as the chance to visit their local National Nature Reserve under the supervision of a Countryside Council for Wales warden, discussing the environmental issues currently facing the sites. They have also had their reports printed in a selection of newspapers and magazines, and will see their work published in the YRE International annual book.

Griffiths said: “This programme allows school pupils to explore subjects that affect not just them and their families, but their communities, Wales and the world at large.”

He added: “I also support the vocational aspect of the project. Today’s 24/7 media plays an important role in keeping us up-to-date on environmental issues and these young people have had the opportunity to learn journalistic skills. I commend their hard work and look forward to reading the articles.”

Chief Executive of Keep Wales Tidy, Lesley Jones, stated: “At Keep Wales Tidy we are delighted that the Welsh winners have received international acclaim. The winning articles are an inspiration for us all as we work together to achieve a sustainable future.”