Green team puts region at forefront of environmental education
A bid was drawn up yesterday to make the North-East a top centre for teaching people how to live within the planet's resources.
The centre would deliver a project called Education for Sustainable Development (efsd) - a new vision which seeks to enable people of all ages to take on responsibility for creating and enjoying a sustainable future.
A network of bodies which is already working along these lines is already up and running, ranging from the Dove Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats to the Newcastle City Council eco-schools movement, city farms and "Friends Of" organisations.
Newcastle University's Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability is to submit the bid on behalf of the network.
It will go to the United Nations Institute of Advanced Studies, which is proposing a worldwide system of regional centres of expertise to deliver the educational programme.
The outcome of the bid will be known by August and if successful the North-East would be only the second such centre in the UK.
Newcastle University's Dr Aidan Doyle, who has been working on the bid, said: "The programme would involve schools, higher and further education establishments, skills centres, museums, libraries and community groups."
The way it would work is illustrated by what is already happening at Newcastle University's Moorbank botanic garden.
The efsd team is working with schools across the region to use the garden's tropical and desert plants collections to teach youngsters about climate change and environmental issues.
An aim is to link these educational trips to research at the university on topics like carbon issues, biodiversity conservation, global warming and plants and pollution.
"The garden is a wonderful resource and a powerful and very visual mechanism for teaching," Dr Doyle said.