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In a first for Heriot’s, one of the numerous Activities Week trips was underscored by ethical and environmental principles. Pupils considered their every action across the five days, not least how they travelled, how they disposed of rubbish, and how to reduce their impact. The account that follows, written by Lois Ajilogba (S3), explains how the pupils sought to ‘tread lightly’.
From a school eco trip that involved camping on Annandale Estate land, visiting reforesting projects, farms, and investigating land use there and in the Pentlands, I learnt many valuable lessons. Until then, I hadn’t realised that Scotland used to have much more native woodland, and the effect that human activities such as farming and commercial forestry have on our ecosystems.
When taken on guided tours of reforesting sites near Moffat, I realised that the small actions we make to reduce climate change (e.g. using bags for life) do make an important impact, but we need to make big changes to achieve our goals on climate and biodiversity. From Scotland, we can do little to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, but thinking about how we can reduce this here is also vital. We saw native Scottish ecosystems flourishing after only twenty years of reforestation efforts, and discovered the shocking differences in biodiversity between reforested and farmed sites, whilst gaining insights into the different viewpoints in our debates.
We discussed a huge range of issues, from the change communities experience on their doorsteps to the challenges of improving sustainability in farming, as well as whether global political views could be changed too. When tackling a worldwide problem like climate change, it is vital to have an open mind and consider all viewpoints. This, I believe, is the most difficult step, but I hope that we can all soon agree on solutions to make big changes, and make a big difference globally.