I first became introduced to Forest Schools years ago when a member of staff mentioned it. I didn’t pay much attention to what they said but when the topic came up last year it got me thinking. After a little research into it, I found that I wanted to know more; that it has a lot of crossover with Scouting and most importantly an ethos of getting young people enjoying the outdoors (which I whole heartedly agree with) – so I began looking for a course.
I was fortunate to find one that was running by Woodland Adventurers during half term week within Wiltshire which suited both my needs – location and timing! (I also wanted a company that cared and this one came highly recommended)
The layout of the site is fab. It’s in an easily accessible (and beautiful) location near Box, Corsham, and a lot of care, consideration and attention has been made so all ages can enjoy this area. Debbie and Chris are the owners who have had the site for many years and have made a successful business on the land.
A selection of recommended books to help with Forest School activities and management on show. There’s a couple I would like to obtain.
We set out exploring the area nearby, the trees, bushes, flora and fauna to discuss and identify the most common species found in the woodland – the trainers even gave us a free tree identification pocket guide.
This was enjoyable, I learnt so much and the weather was kind to us (the mud wasn’t! There was A LOT)
We discussed the sustainability of current (and historic) woodland management techniques – the coppicing and use of hazel for groups, pleaching and creation of dead hedges, fencing etc and how we can involve our young people in the awareness and processes. We looked at the human impact of path creation,
I also learnt some fascinating information about certain trees – did you know Holly trees put all their energy and resources in creating spiked leaves however when they reach a certain height and therefore, out of danger, they continue to grow but instead make smooth broad leaves? (I didn’t either.) There exists a non-native species of Holly that is just all broad leaves with the occasional spiked leaf as shown in the picture.
Also learn a fab fact about horse chestnut trees – after every year it buds it’ll continue to grow its branches and you can ‘measure’ the age of the tree from the number of ridges it has on its branches – if the length is very short it gives an indication that the tree is/has been sick and not growing correctly.
We even discussed ways a tree can be ‘killed’ by recklessness; such as in the photo below. This beech has lost it’s bark, probably through humans removing it, and it’s the bark which carries the water/glucose within the tree from root to the leaf (and visa versa). You can see the tree has started to regrow the bark back but it’ll take years and in that time the tree will slowly die. Grey squirrels are considered pests as they will remove bark from higher up the tree and will kill branches which will eventually drop.
After our exploration of the woodland area, we went back to the fire pit to discuss the assignments and talk about the next day’s activities (Kelly Kettles!) and topics – it’s been such a relaxing and informative day. It got my mind thinking about how much you can discover if you explore your local wooded area. Looking forward to tomorrow (just hoping it doesn’t rain).