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[03 DEC 98] WARWICKSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST PRESS RELEASE
Michael Meacher Launches Globe

The Hon Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Meacher MP joined The Wildlife Trusts in London last week to launch The GLOBE Programme - a new international environmental education project using the Internet. Michael was joined by a virtual Sir David Attenborough whose voice is on the GLOBE website - in wishing the new project well for the future.

Within the UK the GLOBE Programme is being run by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust from their offices just outside Coventry. The GLOBE Programme was initiated by US Vice President AI Core in 1994, and provides a way for children throughout the world to measure their local environment and make the results available immediately over the Internet. To date over 70 countries are involved, with over 1 million data records sent to the central computer facility in the USA.

With support from the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR), the GLOBE Programme was piloted in England by The Wildlife Trusts during 1997, to ensure its links to the National Curriculum and to the needs of UK teachers.

Now, as a result of the grant of 130,000 from DETR, with matched funding from the ARC Environment Fund and support from the National Grid Company plc, a new three-year programme is being developed with The Wildlife Trusts which will enable schools throughout the UK to become GLOBE schools. As a GLOBE school, children pass their own measurements of the environment to the USA where computers produce daily images of our planet based on the children's data. GLOBE also encourages school links internationally using the Internet, so giving a greater awareness of the impact we all make on the planet.

Speaking at the launch, Michael Meacher said:

"I am delighted that we can now go live with the GLOBE Programme in the UK, and give schools everywhere a chance to link practical measurements of the environment with high-tech computers and the Internet. Youngsters need exciting interactive projects like GLOBE to fire their enthusiasm and build an understanding of sustainable development and the critical issues that face us locally and globally. The extra bonus of being able to link up for partnership activities with schools world-wide will have enormous benefits to all involved."

GLOBE Country Co-ordinator, Dr Andy Tasker, added:

"Now that GLOBE is going live we expect to be inundated with requests for training by teachers so that they can participate. All our materials have been re-written to help teachers deliver the National Curriculum, and by providing everything for free from our web page we hope to have scores of schools online within a few months. Linking the Internet with the local environment in this imaginative way shows how technology can help provide solutions, as well as encouraging more people to find out about environmental issues."

To become a GLOBE school at least one teacher per school has to be trained in the GLOBE protocols. Once trained and equipped, GLOBE costs each school nothing, other than the Internet phone line, as the computing costs are met by the US Government. All details are available from the globe website.

NOTES

1. The GLOBE Programme is an international environmental education programme now running in 73 countries world-wide. GLOBE provides standardised ways for children in schools to measure aspects of their local environment in four main areas: weather, water, soils and land cover. Next year four additional areas will be added relating to sustainable development: transport, energy, waste and biodiversity. Starting with a satellite image of the area around the school - provided free by GLOBE - children carry out practical measurements then use the Internet to send their data to a computer in the USA, where exciting visualisations are prepared every day. In addition to helping scientists find out about the state of the planet, children can also communicate with other GLOBE schools around the world for a wide range of joint activities.

2. The Wildlife Trusts are a national network of environmental charities, working to protect wildlife and natural places in both town and country. With over 350,000 members nationwide, The Wildlife Trusts are one of the major national forces working to safeguard the environment for future generations. The GLOBE Programme is an extension of the Wildlife Trusts educational work, which encompasses the Wildlife Watch Club for youngsters and local projects with hundreds of schools throughout the UK.

3. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions' Environmental Action Fund supports environmental groups carrying out work to further the Government's environmental objectives. Core-funding assists national and regional organisations, project funding provides 10,000 - 75,000 for major projects and a local projects fund provides for smaller community level grants. The GLOBE programme is funded as a major project for three years from 1998-99 until 2000-01.

4. The ARC Environment Fund ARC set up its environment fund using the landfill tax credits accumulated by its waste management division. Under the landfill tax scheme ARC is allowed to claim back 20 per cent of the tax paid to Government to fund approved environmental projects. The fund is managed by the Royal Society for Nature Conservation. ARC is a leading supplier of recycled and quarry products to the construction industry, with 300 sites and employing 4,300 people throughout the United Kingdom. The company is also a landfill operator through its waste management division. ARC is part of Hanson PLC. The GLOBE Programme has been funded by a 123,000 grant from the ARC Environment Fund."

5. The National Grid Company plc is at the heart of the electricity industry in England and Wales. It operates the national grid - the system that transports electricity from power stations to the regional companies for distribution to customers. NGC aims to sustain and develop its commitment to environmental care and does so through its network of environmental education centres. These have been established on substation sites and are run in partnership with local authorities and wildlife groups. Some of these centres will be used as GLOBE training centres.
   

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