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First UK ‘Young People in European Forests’ Award Winners

A High School team from Edinburgh has been named the first ever overall UK winner of the Young People in European Forests (YPEF) awards with a heart-warming video on Forestry in Scotland.

By Wendy Necar · February 1, 2023

The short film from Boroughmuir High School was produced by students Hari Pranavam, Izzy Pickard and Raphael Uddin Vie. The Young People in European Forests (YPEF) awards are held annually in 11 countries across mainland Europe. This was the first year the UK had entered.

Project co-ordinator Becky Wilkinson said: “All the entries were inspiring.  What made this one stand out above the others was the effort the team had gone to edit together footage from a wide range of local locations. Their enthusiasm is truly heart-warming.”

Helen McKay, Chief Forester for Scotland, presented the overall winner award at Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh. She said: “It is enormously encouraging to see the young people’s enthusiasm for woodlands and forests.

“To win the UK wide award is a fantastic achievement. Their understanding of the use of woodland through history and the many benefits from today’s woodland showed careful research and consideration of the issues. They made good use of Edinburgh’s urban forests as a backdrop to their presentation.

“We need the next generation to see beyond sound bites and weigh up the various aspects of environmental issues. The pupils of Boroughmuir High School provide an excellent example for today’s young people as they face the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. Well done.”

Mr Shiv Das, Geography teacher at Boroughmuir High School said: “I am absolutely delighted to learn that Raphael, Hari and Izzy have won the YPEF Schools competition not just for Scotland, but for the entire United Kingdom!

“The short film they produced on the importance of rewilding is incredibly informative, well-structured and heartfelt. All three young people have a genuine desire to see Scotland rewilded and reforested. They are committed environmentalists and conservationists who care deeply about reversing biodiversity loss, conserving our varied landscapes such as wetlands and woodlands and tackling the climate and carbon crisis.

“This success will motivate them to further showcase their passion for the country’s trees and woodlands. This is a brilliant start to 2023 for the pupils and Boroughmuir High School.”

A team from Banbury, Oxfordshire, were winners of the England heat, and came in a close second overall with a thought-provoking essay, Why Trees are our Friends.  It was written by three science students from Year 12 at The Warriner School in Bloxham near Banbury, Oxfordshire, Rebekah Allam, Rachael Bosch and Amy Rowlands.

Becky Wilkinson said: “We were impressed at the level of detail in their research and their clear understanding of the importance of forestry for our world’s future.”

Pictured above, from left: RFS Chief Executive Christopher Williams presents the award to the England winners, The Warriner School sixth form scientists Rachael Bosch, Rebekah Allam and Amy Rowlands

RFS Chief Executive Christopher Williams presented the award to the England winners at The Warriner School in Bloxham near Banbury, Oxfordshire.

He said: “Many congratulations to this team. This competition brings young people coming together to discuss common issues facing woodland and forests across Europe.

“Sharing information and ideas now and in the future is vital. We hope many of those taking part in the competition will go on to work in forestry and science.”

The Warriner School Head Teacher, Sharon Nicholls, said: “I am really proud of our Sixth Form students Amy, Rebekah and Rachael for the commitment these budding Biologists have shown in winning this prestigious YPEF Award. Their mature knowledge and understanding into the importance that trees play in our Earth’s sustainability is superb.”

Faculty Leader of Earth and Mathematical Sciences at The Warriner School, Adrian Turner, added: “They understood the importance of Forestry and brought their research together to write a winning essay. I am delighted that their hard work has been recognised.”

YPEF 2023 has the theme of Our Favourite Forest. It is open for entries from schools, youth groups and other organisations. Entrants will be asked to submit a media project which showcases their knowledge and understanding of forestry in their part of the United Kingdom – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. The project can be in any format and may be an extended essay, fact file, powerpoint or video. The deadline for entries is 31st May. 

In the UK, YPEF is supported by the by the Royal Forestry Society, Royal Scottish Forestry Society, Lantra, Scottish Forestry, Natural Resources Wales and Youth for Trees