Fame at last: a letter published in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review. This is what we [the Mitcheldean 8] wrote:
Does an environmental/outdoor education centre have a role to play in what various political leaders around the world have declared as the greatest moral challenge of our time and the need for an education revolution? We think so. And we write to you from different parts of the world to express our concern and opposition to the decision to close down and sell the Wilderness Centre at Mitcheldean.
2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit. With ‘Think global, act local’, the event challenged the world’s communities to develop their own Local Agenda for environmental sustainability. Across England, councils led the way with action plans and investments in community-based initiatives and resources. Villages and towns tackled issues around waste, biodiversity, the local economy and fair trade – efforts that translated Rio’s lofty goals into practical actions. A key venue for this work in Gloucestershire was the Wilderness Centre in the Forest of Dean.
Where are we now? People still want sustainable economies, vibrant ecosystems and flourishing communities. Talk of ‘transition towns’ and the ‘green economy’ are very much in fashion. Rio won’t go away – in fact, Rio+20 will be held in June.
The return to Rio invites the world to take stock of actions on environment and sustainability since 1992. Education has always been the undisputed lynchpin to the work of Rio, it was required as much then as it is now. In fact, teaching and learning about global and local issues in the classroom are only half the story; our education and experiences in the local environment are equally fundamental. All this education has to happen somewhere, if it is to happen at all. And what better place to start than in a dedicated environmental education centre in the heart of the Forest of Dean?
Closing the Wilderness Centre in 2011 has proven shortsighted. Selling it off in 2012 will only compound matters. It damages not just the green credentials of the county council but sells short the people of Gloucestershire – its current and future generations.
“The agenda at stake is much larger than balancing council budgets.”
Quite so. Something here about thinking globally and acting locally ...