I have long been a fan of – and cheerleader for – the forest school movement. That is why I am happy to give my support to Love Trees Love Wood – a new crowdfunding initiative that aims to spread its reach and impact. And I am inviting you to do the same.
Two charities – Sylva Foundation and the Forest School Association – have come together to promote the fundraising campaign. The Sylva Foundation is working to care for forests across Britain and to promote deeper environmental understanding in all people. The Forest School Association is a registered charity and the professional body for forest school within the UK.
I am proud to be the founding patron of FSA (a purely voluntary role) and have shared my thoughts on the merits of forest schools in a video that supports the campaign.
I should add that making this video had two spin-offs. First, it reaffirmed for me the power of the forest school approach. The sight of a group of 4-year-olds immersing themselves in an adventurous, engaging woodland setting complete with campfire and – yes – sawing horse – is hard to argue with.
Second, the recording session introduced me to Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation’s chief executive and someone whose deep knowledge of his subject is matched by his enthusiasm for the world of trees and woods. Taking a purely materialistic and somewhat selfish perspective, any lover of nature might well decide that the chance to get a copy of Gabriel’s exquisite book The New Sylva is reason enough to support this campaign.
In truth, you probably need little persuading of the merits of forest school. The spread of the movement (which 20 years ago was unknown in the UK, yet which now runs in thousands of settings across the country) shows its intuitive appeal. It is also a practical, cost-effective response to the shrinking horizons of childhood and the loss of everyday nature from children’s lives – as I argued in my 2011 Sowing the Seeds report.
Yet as Sowing the Seeds showed, forest schools currently only reach a fraction of the nation’s children. Creating a dedicated fund will allow the targeting of areas of the country that have few or no existing programmes, which can then act as a catalyst for other settings. So I hope that you will give the appeal your special consideration.
As well as making a donation yourself, do help to spread the word. Why not email the URL for the appeal to one person (or two, or three…) who you think might support the campaign? You can also share its Facebook page. Bloggers and web managers: there is also a page with banners and other downloadable material here.