The trees being planted and the habitats being created by the Heart of England Forest today will outlive us all. Elaine Skates, Head of Learning and Skills, explains how the charity is inspiring the next generation to care for the Forest.
Finding joy in the outdoors
Inspiring young people to take action to care for the environment on both a local and a global scale is a long-term aim of the charity. Informed by research into ‘Connection to Nature’, we are encouraging frequent and progressive interactions with the Forest environment in order to create tomorrow’s Forest guardians.
Our monthly clubs for children, young people and their families are helping the next generation to form a lifelong connection with the Forest at the same time as making new friends. We want to encourage young people and families to come to the forest again and again, so they develop lifelong habits of spending time in nature and caring for the environment.
Spending time in the Forest regularly
Young Foresters was launched in May 2019 for young people aged 12-18. Our committed group of Young Foresters have had many fantastic experiences together as they have learned about the natural world – from harvesting and planting hazelnuts to wild camping under the stars.
Mini Foresters is for children aged 4-11 and their families. Every month sees a new adventure – we have learned to whittle sticks, made delicious hawthorn ketchup and rose hip syrup, and made candles and rope from recycled materials. With lots of bug hunting and hot chocolate and marshmallows thrown in too.
Positive action to fight climate change
Young people like Greta Thunberg are leading the fight against climate change, with school children striking to ensure their concerns are heard. But with “Eco-Anxiety” on the increase, the Forest is providing local young people with a very tangible way of making a difference – by planting a tree in the ground.
The Heart of England Forest achieved its “Year of Green Action” pledge to involve young people in the planting of 1000 trees in 2019 as part of Step up to Serve’s #iwill campaign. Initiatives included a School Tree Planting Day in March which was attended by five local schools. Vale of Evesham School, the charity’s Mini Foresters group, a special family tree planting day in February and Shipston cubs also contributed to the charity hitting its target.
Welcoming young people back to the Forest
Sadly our activities for children and young people had to be suspended due to the pandemic, but we are looking at ways to welcome younger generations back to the Forest. Keep up to date by following our social media channels or visiting our Learning and Skills page.