Page last updated at 22:37 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Green pilot in city playground

Artists impression of the new Merrylee Primary play area
Almost 100,000 has been raised to complete phase one of the project

Trees, hills, boulders and tunnels are to be installed at a Glasgow school in a move which could revolutionise playtime for pupils across the city.

Merrylee Primary will be the first school in Scotland to pilot a "natural play environment" in its playground.

The aim is to increase pupils' activity levels by providing more stimulus than is found in traditional school yards.

The pilot project will inform future playground developments in Glasgow and throughout Scotland.

The new play area will form part of the new Merrylee Primary School, which is scheduled to open before term time ends in June.

The exact cost of the project has not been finalised but the school has raised almost £100,000, with major contributions from Glasgow City Council and the Forestry Commission.

Landscape architect Felicity Steers, who is a Merrylee parent, designed the play area and said it would be "completely unique" when finished.

Future commitment

"We visited fantastic play areas in Stirling and Balmaha with the children to get ideas and some of these have provided inspiration for what we're doing at Merrylee," she said.

"Phase one of the project should be completed in time for the new term in August.

"But it will require a long-term commitment from everyone involved.

Pedometers will be fitted to measure pupils' activity

"Although we'll have the structures and drainage in place, everything will still have to grow, take shape and be managed for the future."

Ms Steers said the Forestry Commission had carried out a study into how children played in the old school.

She said pedometers had been used to calculate how much exercise the children took while playing.

This will be repeated in the new natural play area to see if there has been any benefit.

Even before landscaping begins, pupils at Merrylee Primary have named their new playground the "urban jungle".

When complete, it will feature grass-covered hills, trees - to climb and pick fruit from, boulders to clamber over, chutes to slide down, tunnels to crawl through and mazes to hide in.

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