It’s never been more important to engage and educate young people about the forestry industry and its role in combatting climate change. Machine manufacturer Komatsu is leading the way at the local level with its new schools programme.

IN 2023, Komatsu Forest teamed up with Carlisle United Community Sports Trust to set up the Climate Heroes programme. The aim of the programme was to supply local schools with climate change- and sustainability-focused lessons.

Designed to fit in with the year 5 and year 6 curriculum, the programme would be an invaluable tool for schools, while also providing myth-busting knowledge of the forestry industry to the students and teachers alike. 

After a lot of planning and hard work had gone into the programme itself, a pilot was launched with Crosby-on-Eden School in Cumbria. It was a fantastic success and led the way for the programme to launch more widely. An informal showcase presented to a panel of teachers and head teachers in the area led to many schools signing up. 

The programme itself consists of the delivery of a six-week lesson plan to local schools on climate change and sustainability. The lessons include the topic of climate change – what it is, why it happens and how it affects us, along with how we can fight it, with interactive games and suggestions for ‘what can I do at home’ to help.

Forestry Journal:

Peatlands and other habitats are also covered, including endangered species and threats to their survival. The culmination of the programme for students and teachers is a visit to the brand-new Komatsu Forest facility near Carlisle in Cumbria. For this final lesson, pupils spend the day at Komatsu, finding out what it’s like to be in the forestry industry. 

A fun-filled day, students start off with an introductory video to forestry, and why it’s so important to life today, as well as information on Komatsu and the machines the company provides, alongside receiving a safety briefing and their PPE. Next, the class is split into small teams of around eight students to take part in the activities. An engineering activity sees the students working as a team to put together a cog assembly. Memory, problem solving and logic are all put to the test in this challenge.

Forestry Journal:

The second activity is a tour of the Komatsu facility, including the workshop area where the students get to sit in a machine and experience the controls, followed by an observational skills work-sheet. The third activity is a simulator experience, where students try their hand at operating a forwarder or harvester, carefully picking up logs with a grapple and stacking them for forwarding – always a big hit with students (and adults alike). 

Various schools in the county have already been involved, to great success, with many more planned to enrol in the programme this year and into 2025.

Stephen Bellas, managing director at Komatsu Forest UK, said: “The six-lesson plan focuses on various aspects of sustainability, such as forestry, carbon footprints, ecosystems, biodiversity, and promoting a greener future. We have been delighted to see the children show great enthusiasm and incredible knowledge about their environment, and we plan to continue the ‘Climate Heroes’ project into next year.”

By empowering the next generation of engineers, machine operators and climate heroes, Komatsu aims to stay true to its brand promise: creating value together.