STUDENTS from the Community College, Bishop's Castle, have been out and about in the woods at the beginning of a new joint project between the college and local charity, Light Foot Enterprises.

Every fortnight on Friday afternoons, during this autumn, a group of students is going out into local woodlands to experience the richness and diversity of the woodland environment, finding out how to conserve the landscape and how to manage and utilise woodlands sustainably. The project is part of the college's enrichment programme and is part funded by Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Fund.

The first two sessions with Mandy Jones, woodlands ranger and Alan Reid, learning ranger for the Forestry Commission were held at Bury Ditches. Lightfoot project coordinator, Gary Cowell, said "The students were very enthusiastic. They learnt about different ways to measure the height of trees in our first session in the woods and about how important it is to get accurate measurements. In the second session we looked for signs of wildlife and found deer tracks and droppings as well as lots of evidence of squirrels. We even found some out-of-season tadpoles. The students had a fantastic time".

Gary continued, "With the students we shall explore what woods have done for us and what we can do for woods. Why are woods where they are? What lives in a wood? What can we eat that grows in a wood? We will be building shelters, learning about getting fuel for heating, and growing wood for construction and fuel. Practical skills learnt will be helping with cutting down trees, clearing brash and storing the wood plus identifying trees and plants in the wood. We shall encourage students to think about careers in woodland activities of all sorts."