A County Durham school has been taking part in a world record challenge to show the importance of connectivity between countries and raise awareness of climate change.

Durham County Council’s international relations team has been working with St Mary’s RC School, in South Moor, which has been creating paper trees for a world record attempt.

The attempt is being made by Gratkorn elementary school in Styria, which asked schools across the globe to send in their creations to create the world’s longest chain of paper trees.

The Austrian school will be using the record attempt as an opportunity to create a “climate-friendly world record forest” where one real tree will be planted for every 50 paper trees they receive.

The real trees planted in Austria will significantly balance out the paper used in the record attempt and a carbon-neutral post service has been used to send the paper trees to Gratkorn school.

Paul Boyle, at St Mary’s school, decided to get his pupils involved after they enjoyed taking part in the council’s international Christmas decorations project with other European schools last December.

He hoped the paper tree record attempt would create a positive challenge for his pupils while creating an opportunity to learn about their own carbon footprint.

Paul said: “I came across the world record attempt notification as we were taking part in a European Christmas project. 

“During lockdown, when the world was a quieter place, the children in my class began to further appreciate the world around them. 

“I loved the idea and we set out to make 50 trees to send off. The children were so enthused by the project that we ended up sending 300.

“The project led us to look at our carbon footprints and how important it is for the future. We even had fun playing a Geography Carbon Footprint Game.”

The paper trees will be counted at Gratkorn school in April to be threaded together in May, and the real trees will be planted in June.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “It is great to see the enthusiasm of pupils at St Mary’s in this international activity. Not only have they done a fantastic job to exceed their target of 50 trees but taking part will help build positive relations with schools in other countries.

“As a council that has pledged to combat climate change and make the county and our operations carbon neutral by 2050, I am pleased to hear the pupils have shown a keen interest in learning about their own carbon footprints and what we can do to raise awareness of and improve the environment around us.”

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