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Schoolchildren to help biosphere bid

Schools are supporting an attempt to secure global recognition of the Isle of Man as a special place to live, work and visit.

The island is preparing a bid to become a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) biosphere reserve.

The success of the Biosphere Vannin bid would recognise the Isle of Man's ability to balance a modern and dynamic economy with a high-quality environment.

If the application is granted, the Isle of Man would join a list of international biosphere reserves, including Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia, Yellowstone National Park and the Everglades in the USA, Mount Kenya in Africa and the Danube Delta in Europe.

It would be the first entire small nation to be awarded UNESCO biosphere status.

The island's 37 state schools are invited to become Biosphere Vannin partners – signing up to a charter that complements work they already do in the classroom and out of doors.

Among other pledges, partners promise to protect natural resources, support and promote cultural heritage and make a positive environmental impact.

First to sign up as a school partner was Peel Clothworkers' Primary, which was presented with a certificate by Phil Gawne MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, the department making the bid.

Teacher Alan Crebbin said: 'Our school is delighted to become the first Biosphere Vannin partner.

'We support Fair Trade, hold an Eco-Schools' silver award and have an Eco Club that's focusing on recycling and reduction of waste and developing the grounds to create habitats for native flora and fauna. We also plan to work in partnership with other organisations to develop our school field as a habitat for native birds and wildlife.

'We look forward to supporting this initiative through the Eco Club and with classes making an active contribution as part of our new school curriculum.

'We are developing close links with Queen Elizabeth II High School, which has won global awards for its environmental work.'

Peter Longworth, environmental protection officer for sustainability and climate change with DEFA, is co-ordinating the bid for UNESCO biosphere status.

He said: 'It is heartening to hear how actively schools are engaged in environmental projects, for example Eco Schools. We are already ahead of our peers in the UK in how committed our pupils and teachers are to environmental work. Pledging to partner Biosphere Vannin further demonstrates this commitment.'

Mr Gawne said: 'It is gratifying that Peel Clothworkers put itself forward as the first school to sign up to the biosphere charter. Interest has already been high from schools that are keen to get involved.

'We look forward to being able to demonstrate, in our bid, how engaged our young people are in what makes the Isle of Man such a special place to live and grow up in.'

Photo courtesy of IOM today.

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