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Putting the Forestry into Forest Education

posted on March 31, 2017

Last week eighty forest educators came together at Bishops Wood Centre to increase their skills and knowledge in forestry at a conference run by England’s Forest Education Network (FEN). Sylva Foundation played a key role in developing the forestry theme of the conference and helping deliver the conference in its role as one of six national organisations on the FEN steering group.

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

In partnership with Royal Forestry Society and Bishops Wood, Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst ran a workshop “Wonderful ways with woodland management that accommodates education”. Participants in the workshop were introduced to woodland management through games, group activities and lively discussions on the complexities of sustainably managing a woodland for multiple objectives. A Forest School Leader trainer commented:

“We are looking forward to passing on the woodland management tips to our Forest School trainees.”

During the workshop Sylva’s myForest for Education was introduced as a free online tool to support educators in developing their own woodland management plans for their sites. Some participants commented:

“It’s a really useful tool” and “Sylva Foundation was very inspiring.”

Participants also took part in two other workshops on the day including: Seeing the wood for the trees – the importance of identification and tree health awareness for woodland management, run by Forestry Commission and Field Studies Council; and Resilient Woodlands for the future, making the right tree planting choices run by the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission.

Learning in the woods

Learning in the woods

Conference feedback showed that FEN had successfully put the forestry back into forest education!

If you would like to be involved in future FEN events, have access to free education resources, keep up to date with national forest education organisations and join this growing network of forest educators join FEN!

 


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myForest Development Christmas Appeal

posted on November 29, 2016

Help us help Britain’s woodland by supporting our myForest development project. Thanks to the support of the Dulverton Trust, any donation made via the Big Give between 29th November – 2nd December will be doubled! You can read more about the Appeal on the Big Give website or go straight to the donate page.

myForest development Christmas appeal with the Big Give

myForest development Christmas appeal with the Big Give

Healthy woodland improves the environment. It cleans our air, supports wildlife, creates fertile soil, helps relieve flooding and provides space for learning, employment and relaxation.

The myForest planning tool was developed as a free, online resource for woodland owners, managers and agents to help and encourage them to map and plan to manage their woodland sustainably. myForest is used currently by more than 4,700 owners nationwide to map and manage almost 60,000ha of woodlands across Britain. Next year we want to develop new tools to make myForest even more effective and encourage more owners to use it.

Thank you for your support.

 


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Wood Week captivates primary school

posted on November 16, 2016

An innovative week-long programme of outdoor and indoor education about trees, forestry and wood — Wood Week — was developed and tested with one lucky primary school.

Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager Jen Hurst teamed up with Forester Paul Williams, Carpenter Julian Angus and staff at Combe Church of England Primary School to provide children with a week-long programme of activities on the topic of British trees, forestry and wood. This was supported by head teacher Charlie Marshall as part of the school’s new Curiosity, Creativity and Challenge curriculum.


The week kicked off with an assembly on the OneOak Project  which provided the school with inspiration and ideas for their own tree; a Norway Spruce to be felled in the school grounds. On Day Two Paul Williams of Trees and Gardens came into school and ran forestry workshops for the children explaining his work and equipment. Jen worked with children to learn more about Norway Spruce, its biology and value and to estimate the height and age of the tree before its felling. Once felled the children re-measured the tree and watched Paul cross cut the trunk 122 rounds so that each child took one home.

Julian Angus runs his own carpentry business from the Sylva Wood Centre but also works with schools to make wood products.  On Day Three of Wood Week Julian set up a ‘pop up’ wood workshop in the school grounds and gave the Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11 years) the task of making two benches out of Douglas-fir timber. The children were completely hands-on measuring, sawing, hammering, bolting and working as a team. The benches are needed by the school to increase the seating area for outdoor learning. Key Stage 1 children (aged 4-7 years) also enjoyed using tools making tree cookies with hand drills at their Forest School sessions on the same day.

Jen Hurst led classes outside on Day Four with engaging tree identification activities. Learning the names and uses of the trees will enable staff and pupils to use their school grounds more for outdoor learning. On the same day Years 5 and 6 (aged 9-11) learned how wood was used in the past by building a wattle and daub wall out of hazel and willow as part of their Anglo-Saxon history lesson. In classrooms teachers taught lessons related to Wood Week, including literacy by comparing Norway Spruce and Oak, debated the of felling trees, and produced artwork using materials from trees. These lesson plans, resources, photos, films and activities will be uploaded onto TIMBER! website.

The finale of the week was the branding of 10 logs of Lawson Cypress donated by Blenheim Estate. Julian Angus set up a ‘pop up’ Black Smith forge complete with bellows. Key Stage two children selected the individual iron letters and branded the log poles to spell out the school’s values. Key Stage one children helped shave the bark off the logs with a spokeshave. A final school assembly was held outdoors and the offspring of the OneOak tree, a young oak sapling, was planted to replace the Norway Spruce.

There has been lots of positive feedback from parents and children, one 8 year old said:

“it was the best week of my life!” and many children have expressed an interest in careers in forestry and woodwork.

Charlie Marshall Head Teacher said:

“Schools can focus on the negatives of deforestation so we decided to look at the positive…and learn about the journey of a tree through its life…”

 

Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst explained the many outcomes from Wood Week:

  • educating young people, teachers and their families about British trees, forestry and wood
  • training and enabling school teachers to use their school grounds more for outdoor learning
  • improving school grounds with benches and sculptures to enable outdoor learning
  • giving young people a genuine hands on experience making products out of wood
  • providing young people with the opportunity to meet professional foresters and carpenters
  • developing new resources for teaching and learning on British trees, forestry and wood that will be available nationally on Sylva’s TIMBER! website. “

 

If your school is interested in a Wood Week or Julian Angus workshops please contact Jen Hurst

 


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myForest for Education workshop at the National Forest

posted on April 28, 2016

The National Forest was humming with discussions about woodland management and forest education at the latest myForest for Education training workshop.

The workshop was held at Martinshaw Wood near Leicester, owned and managed by the Woodland Trust. Twelve Forest School Leaders, trainers and those interested in forest education and community-managed woodlands attended the half-day training event. Nottingham and Leicester Forest Education Network, the National Forest and the Sylva Foundation worked in partnership to:

  • introduce participants to basic principles of woodland management;
  • survey an area of woodland with the aim of creating a woodland management plan using myForest for Education;
  • provide opportunities for networking, sharing information and contacts to other forestry organisations.

Chris Williams, Woodland Trust Manager, led a walk through the woods to explain the management of this planted ancient woodland site. Simon Greenhouse, National Forest,  showed the group newly-planted areas adjacent to Martinshaw wood and explained how local communities, schools and sponsors are involved in the woodland creation and management.  The site visit ended at Groby Community College in an area of woodland well-used for education activities. Jen Hurst, Sylva Foundation Education Manager, showed the group how to map and survey the site including an assessment of ecological impacts on the woodland. Back in the workshop room the results of the survey were transferred to Sylva’s free online system myForest for Education to create management plans.

Jen Hurst at the myForest for Education workshop

Jen Hurst presenting at the myForest for Education workshop

myForest for Education workshop

Delegates at the National Forest myForest for Education workshop

One workshop participant said:

“it’s so valuable meeting other Forest School Leaders, woodland owners and organisations who manage woodland sites for education”.

Another — a newly-trained Forest School Leader — implored:

“I just want more of this kind of training!”.

With generous support from the Patsy Wood Trust until 2018, myForest for Education training workshops will continue to be provided free to any groups, networks or conferences.

Please contact Jen Hurst for further information about the workshops: jen@sylva.org.uk

Read more about myForest for Education

 

 


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Educational inspiration in the National Forest

posted on November 26, 2015

In partnership with the National Forest Company, the Sylva Foundation recently ran a successful one day myForest for Education workshop for Forest School Leaders and woodland owners.

The workshop began with walks and talks on woodland management. Charles Robinson, National Forest Woodland Management Officer, gave an overview of the 20 year old woodland created on the site of a former coal mine and the next phase of its management. Woodland owner David Scott-Malden explained his management objectives and highlighted the value of having a Forest School group use his site. The mutual benefits of managing the woodland together was further emphasised by Nicola Mailer from Ashby Castle Day Nursery who runs popular weekly Forest School Sessions and summer holiday schemes in the wood.

Participants used the survey form from myForest for Education to do a sketch map of the site, tree inventory and record ecological impacts and benefits of having a regular Forest School in the woodland.

After an inspiring field visit, Jen Hurst, Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager presented myForest for Education online management planning tool and participants enjoyed using the system to map their own Forest School sites and start their management plans.

Participants commented in the evaluation:

“the training has given me a better understanding of managing my site”

“myForest for Education will change the way we approach writing management plans”

Sue Anderson, Community Liaison Officer commented:

“For the National Forest and Sylva Foundation the workshop succeeded in bringing together woodland owners and educators to discuss the value of managing woodlands for education and providing them with practical support to achieve this. It was an enjoyable, informal session that has helped us in developing our woodland network locally.”

We are very grateful to Sue Anderson and the National Forest team for excellent organisation of the day and venue. We look forward to working in partnership again in the new year, when we plan to run a myForest for Education workshop in another part of the National Forest.

Please contact Jen Hurst if you are interested to attending.

 


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myForest for Education – a national first for forest education

posted on May 6, 2015

myForest for EducationWe are excited to announce the launch of myForest for Education: the UK’s first woodland management planning application designed specifically for education.

myForest for Education has been developed as a new feature in the recently-launched myForest version 3.0. In designing and building myForest for Education, we consulted closely with more than 100 Forest School Leaders, environmental educators and teachers who participated in early trials and contributed ideas.

The outcome is myForest for Education – an easy-to-use and free online application that enables any educator, or young person, to generate straightforward woodland management plans, maps and ecological impact assessments for woodland sites and school grounds.

myForest education

A screenshot from the myForest for Education application. The smallest of features can be mapped and described. A management plan can then be created for your site.

 

Key Features:

  • Forest School Leaders undertaking Level 3 training users can produce a Forest School site management plan and ecological impact assessment.
  • Educators using any school grounds, woodland site or other outdoor space in the UK can create printable maps with features and labels.
  • Responsive design, which means it fits the size of the screen you are using, making it easy to use with tablets and laptops.
  • Guidance throughout using ‘context-sensitive’ help.

Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager Jen Hurst said,

“​myForest for Education creates a bridge between the worlds of forestry and education, and it will increase engagement of educators and young people in real life sustainable forest management”.

myForest for Education training workshops are currently being planned at several locations across the UK. They will be targeted at Forest School Leaders, environmental educators or teachers interested learning more about the power of myForest for Education. More information will be posted here soon.

 

We are grateful to our partners the Oxfordshire Forest School Service, based at Hill End Centre near Oxford, and the national Forest School Association for their input and for providing opportunities to run consultation and training workshops with educators.

Find out more myForest for Education

You can also email Jen Hurst for more information

Patsy Wood Trust

Funded by the Patsy Wood Trust


We are indebted to the Patsy Wood Trust for supporting the appointment of Sylva’s Education Manager, and the development of the myForest for Education application.

 


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