Why forests & woods?
Why Forest School? What is it about being around trees that is so important?
The ethos of Forest School can be applied to any outdoor environment: in a field at the back of your setting or on a beach – the emphasis of Forest School is the approach to the individual’s development and any outdoor space can provide many of the resources you need to do this.
But wooded areas do have a special quality - read on for some reflections on why...
Woods and forests are special places for humans; we are linked to the woods as a place to forage for food and resources to create shelter and live in
In more recent history the woods were important for providing employment (building ships and houses). It is only a relatively new way of living that has disconnected us from these wonderful places, so diverse and rich.
Groups and individuals are often much more relaxed in a woodland environment (after the initial excitement/novelty has reduced). Woodlands are a fantastic learning environment: resource-rich, sheltered, challenging yet safe (as long as they are properly maintained). Woods are often close to local communities, and forever changing. Changes happen throughout the year, daily, weekly, seasonally and can even change during the session.
Woods provide a challenging, comfortable and exciting place to learn.
The case for woods
Why woods are good for our health and wellbeing
'Woods and trees are good for our health and wellbeing. Many of us feel this intuitively. But there is also an ever-growing mountain of scientific evidence, brought into even sharper focus since the coronavirus pandemic, that's painting a picture of the health benefits of trees, woods and the natural environment.'
The Woodland Trust documents how they're 'fighting to ensure more people have access to woods and working with experts nationwide, launching health programmes and researching the benefits that nature and woods bring.'
Seeing the wood for the trees: woodlands as a tool for engaging people with the natural environment
‘Woodlands provide significant opportunities for those who would not usually spend time outdoors to encounter and discover the natural environment.’ Natural England, 2013.
Follow link then search Seeing the wood for the trees for pdf download.
Good from Woods case studies
‘The Good from Woods research project (Plymouth University) explored how people are benefiting, personally and socially, from woodland activities in southwest England. Initiatives that deliver woodland activities recorded how participants feel about their experiences in order to build an evidence base.’ 15 case studies from a range of work, in various outdoor settings, with children, young people and adults with learning difficulties. c2011.
How a walk in the woods could do you good
'The concept of “forest bathing” is becoming popular in the West, but it originates from Japan. It is the art of how trees can help you find health and happiness. Dr Qing Li, an expert in the field, has been looking at the science behind how trees can improve wellness through emitting essential oils into the environment.'
BBC video, 25 April 2018. (2 mins 38)