Friday, 3 July 2009

Orangutans put on MP's agenda thanks to pupils

Personal note: One teacher generated this action and interest. It just goes to prove. What people can do is limitless. What some people will do is another matter.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009, Bath Chronicle

Youngsters at Bath schools are saving energy – and saving endangered species.

Pupils at one school have become a driving force behind a Government motion to protect orangutans in the wild.

Children at Kingswood Prep School wrote to city MP Don Foster following a day focusing on environmental issues and what they could do to help protect the planet.

Students from Years 3 and 4 wrote to Mr Foster to explain their feelings about the plight of the creatures, particularly in the Indonesian region of Borneo.

Mr Foster then visited the school to meet the children, read out their letters and tell them about his work as an MP. a result of his visit, the politician has now become one of 74 MPs who have signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for action to help save rainforests, which are the natural habitat of orangutans.

The forests are often destroyed to be replaced by palm plantations which are used to harvest palm oil used in everything from ice cream to peanut butter.

MPs are also calling on supermarkets to come on board and label clearly which products use palm oil and whether that oil has been grown in a sustainable environment.

Mr Foster said: "This was not an issue I knew anything about until the children wrote to me. It is something I have taken up as a result of their lobbying. It is entirely down to them.

"This is a great example of democracy in action. It is a demonstration of pupil power."

Mr Foster is also due to visit Year 3 children at St Saviour's Junior School next week who have also written to him about the negative effect of the palm oil industry.

Kingswood pupils have also been working with Bath and North East Somerset Council on recycling activities.

Year five pupils organised fundraising activities for the charity WaterAid, while older students also wrote and performed a song with an environmental theme at a school assembly.

Meanwhile, a dozen primary schools across the Bath and north east Somerset area have saved more than 4,000 kilowatt hours in a two-week Energy Power Down campaign to cut the amount of electricity they use.

The saving – equivalent to more than two tons of carbon – was made as part of the B&NES Council's Eco-Schools programme.

Pupils used electricity monitoring equipment to record their energy consumption over the fortnight and on average, the schools reduced consumption by 16 per cent.

The project will be repeated in another 12 schools later this year. The schools used methods such as rap songs and comic strips to get the energy-saving message across.

Among the schools taking part was St Michael's Junior School in Twerton, where bursar Karen Crosse said: "This was the start. We are moving on now to think about bigger ways to save energy."