AN ECO-friendly straw bale classroom is to be built at UK Youth's National Activity and Residential Centre at Avon Tyrrell in the New Forest.

The charity is now looking for volunteers to help construct the eco-classroom, which will be used to teach environmental subjects, ready for opening in early November.

Its foundations will be of old car tyres rammed with earth and the walls made from straw bales rendered by the age-old lime technique.

The roof will be a mixture of living plants and solar panels which will charge large storage battteries to provide power.

Lots of windows will allow in the light and save on the use of electricity, and the building will be heated using a log-burning stove.

All materials will be sourced as locally and as sustainably as possible.

A balcony facing the smaller of Avon Tyrrell's two lakes will feature viewing scopes so that students can enjoy the wildlife close up.

Even the loo, in a separate building, will be environmentally friendly, being based on the composting system.

A total 65 per cent of the cost of the project is coming from New Forest National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund, with the remainder being supplied by Hampshire County Council and a private benefactor.

Bransgore Primary School has already said it wants to use the new facility.

Avon Tyrrell programmes officer Mike Paine said: "This is an extremely exciting development for Avon Tyrrell.

"The eco-classroom will be an amazing base for our environmental activity programmes while also showcasing how sustainable living can be adapted for modern living."

Claire Moir, the centre's environmental education co-ordinator, said: "We are thrilled to be able to offer environmental education sessions in such an appropriate and inspiring building."

Anyone interested in helping to construct the building should contact Claire on 01425 672347.

Around 20,000 young people benefit from a visit to Avon Tyrrell every year.

The centre offers a wide range of activities including climbing, canoeing, archery, abseiling, ropes, swimming, environmental studies, team-building and personal development courses.