Working with the Woodland Trust, who are leading on delivery targeted at some of the most deprived areas of the country, Community Forests will plant 164,000 trees with schools in an important programme which helps to deliver our long term Forest Plans. We're providing expert design advice, support with planting and ensuring that plans are in place for long-term management and use by children.
The Mersey Forest's Trees for Learning project officer Steph Hepworth said, "Planting trees has a special significance for children in schools as many of them will be around to see their tree growing as they move up through the school. This helps to give them a sense of belonging to their surroundings and fosters a desire to nurture their environment. Some of the Year 6 children feel sad that they won't be around to see their tree come to maturity, but take great comfort from the thought younger siblings or friends will take care of it."
Community Forest Trees For Learning teams are at their very busiest during the tree planting seasons running from September to March during which time they arrange planting days with schools to plant trees, hedgerows and orchards using native species such as cherry, hazel, beech, holly, spindle and field maple. A Year 4 teacher working in Southport said, "It's wonderful to get the children out of the classroom, rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty doing something practical to improve the school environment for all of us, and for wildlife. And even better this month, we're doing it in the snow!"
Many teachers and teaching assistants taking part in the scheme find that pupils really thrive in an outdoor learning environment. This all adds to the growing body of evidence to support the importance of schools allowing children time to connect with nature.
The tree planting sessions give staff the opportunity to discuss biodiversity with the children: prompting them to consider what creatures will live in the hedgerows they're now planting and how they might encourage more wildlife into their school environment. The work links to the national curriculum encouraging discussions about how trees and the environment are part of other important issues like health and climate change. We use this experience, with support from the teachers involved, to ensure that the tree planting project is part of a wider, enjoyable, learning experience that supports the new national curriculum and encourages outdoor learning.
This part of the Trees for Learning scheme is being co-ordinated by The Mersey Forest and delivered by Community Forests all over England, working with around 1,000 schools to plant 164,000 trees across the UK.
If your school would like to take part in the Trees for Learning please contact the Mersey Forest on 01925 816 217 @Trees4Learning
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