I n Croatia today, Forest schools and Forest kindergardens are just a term and do not exist in practice.
Forestry education program for youth and children was done until recently only as an alternative program by various environmental associations or initiatives.
What has the greatest significance concerning forestry education in Croatia today is a well developed project of Croatian Forest State Company (the only State forest company managing all the public forests) called “ School in the Forest and a Forest in the School”. Program is implemented by Forestry experts in all public elementary schools in Croatia doing outdoor and indoor classes.
In Croatian Forests State Company they say the reason for starting such a program is in educating children about the importance and preservation of forests but also in promoting forestry as a profession and a science. Highly educated staff of Croatian Forests Company is implementing a project finaced by the State of Croatia.
Croatia belongs to the most wooded countries of Europe, with more than 0.50 ha of forest per inhabitant so forests are one of the largest national assets. Croatia has a 312 endemic plants, among them are 85 woody endemic trees and shrubs.
Forestry profession is one of the oldest in Croatia. The training of forestry personnel began in 1860 with the establishment of the Economic Forestry Institute in Krizevci, the first such school in this part of Europe. An academic education of forestry personnel started in 1989 with opening of the Forestry Academy in Zagreb.
Due to the mentioned national heritage it is interesting for children to get a new, interdisciplinary approach about forests and forest life and learn about the importance of sustainable forest management.
The project "School in the Forest and a Forest in the School" has the objective to introduce elementary school pupils to the environment and a local heritage with an intention to develop a positive attitude about forest and forestry that in some ways has a bed reputation - when cutting the trees.
So the aim of this project is to emphasize the importance of preserving the quality of the forests (sometimes also by cutting) and get forestry-educated and environmentaly conscientious children. With “School in the forest” Forestry experts will integrate the knowledge acquired in the forest into the entire educational process.
Children will get acquainted with forest plants and animals, importance of preventing fire and the consequences of the forest fire that today present a significant problem in the Croatian forestry.
A gained knowledge will be an inspiration for the art and a literary works and that way very well integrated into the educational process of schools where implemented.