A GROUP of environmentally-concious schoolchildren from Monmouthshire have taken their concerns all the way to the top.

Youngsters in the Silverbirch class at Usk Church in Wales Primary School have recently been learning about deforestation, and wrote to Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay about the issue.

And the Conservative AM raised the issue with Mark Drakeford during First Minister's Questions this week.

He said: "I have recently received some very well-written letters, I have to say, from pupils in the Silverbirch class at Usk Primary School in my constituency, who've been learning about global goals and, specifically, deforestation.


"The pupils wrote to me primarily because they're particularly concerned about the increasing demand for palm oil, which is used in food, cosmetics and so many other everyday items.

"Our demand for these products here in Wales is directly resulting in the destruction of tropical rainforests to make room for plantations, thereby destroying natural habitats for wildlife, including orangutans."

Applauding the pupils as "ethical and informed", Mr Ramsay added they were "talking about issues that should be affecting and are of concern to us all."

He said: "Can you tell them what the Welsh Government is doing in the fightback against the demand for palm oil on the one hand and, in the wider sense, against the threat to forests across the world?"

Responding, Mr Drakeford applauded the pupils for taking action.

"I'm very glad indeed that their concerns are being aired on the floor of the National Assembly," he said. "Concern for the environment is very much a generationally-driven set of concerns.

"We know how much young people are invested in making sure that the planet that they will have to look after arrives in their stewardship in as good a state as we can make it."

He added not using "unethically sourced palm oil" was a condition of entering into a public contract in Wales, and the Welsh Government has also committed to planing at least 2,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030, creating a new Welsh national forest.

Last week a series of new environmental projects across Wales were announced, including £1.3 million for reviving damaged and destroyed environments in Gwent.

Palm oil, which has a variety of uses and is found in almost 50 per cent of packaged projects, is contained in oil palm trees, which grow in Africa and south east Asia.

Today, Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85 per cent of the world's supply, with forests and woodland destroyed to make space to grow oil plam trees - damaging the environment and destroying wildlife habitats.