Schools in Cork have been awarded Green Flags for their dedication to the environment.

Green flags flying on Leeside

An incredible 60 schools across Cork city and county have been awarded a special Green Flag for their dedication to sustainability and protecting the environment.

The flags were awarded by environmental management programme Green-Schools which focuses on themes such as litter, waste, energy, travel, biodiversity and marine environment.

Overall, 526 schools across the nation were awarded flags including 33 schools who received the honour for the very first time.

Despite two years of closures and challenges posed by Covid-19, schools in Cork and around the country achieved impressive results in the themes outlined by Green-Schools.

In the litter and waste theme, 70 per cent of participating schools took part in awareness raising action days, with 73 per cent reporting an increase in awareness of litter and waste issues.

On the theme of energy, 29 per cent of schools managed to make energy savings, with 94 per cent seeing an increase in awareness on the topic of energy.

Over two thirds of schools awarded for the Green-Schools travel theme saw an increase in the number of students cycling to school, while and 85 per cent of schools recorded an increase in sustainable travel overall.

Schools involved in the biodiversity theme increased the level of biodiversity nationwide by planting over 2,000 trees, creating more than 150 new wildlife-friendly gardens and erecting at least 250 new bird feeding stations. In the marine environment theme, 88 per cent of schools carried out investigations regarding the sources of marine litter and promoted various actions to reduce it.

Finally, 93 secondary school students took part in the water ambassador programme which provides mentoring and training for committed students who want to make a difference.

Green-Schools Manager Cathy Baxter congratulated the 526 schools on receiving their Green Flag.

“We know that you have all been working incredibly hard in your schools over the last year and you continued to find innovative ways to keep the programme going during school closures and social distancing. You managed to have outdoor committee meetings, online workshops and attending online webinars to keep up to date, so thank you,” she said.

Schools were invited to six online award ceremonies which took place earlier this month, with the final ceremony for the water theme taking place today (Thursday).

At the ceremonies, schools enjoyed activities like sea shanties and online quizzes, with messages of support played from ‘Captain Climate’ actor Nicola Coughlan, champion cyclist Lara Gillespie and local authority environmental awareness officers who support schools during their participation in Green-Schools.

Green-Schools (known internationally as Eco-Schools), is an international environmental management education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that operates in 77 countries promoting long-term, whole-school action for the environment.