The Forest is in Fashion
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11. November 2019

The Forest is in Fashion

Authors: Sirpa Kärkkäinen, FFA, Finland

F orest enthusiasm is now in vogue, says a Finnish Trendi magazine in its July issue. Young adults go on camping trips. Lapland and Lofoten are in, because New York and Berlin have been so seen. The urban nature man might not go to Lapland, but a day trip to national park near by Helsinki is an experience and #theforesttherapy. The modest cabin in the middle of the woods is cool.

Wood and forest are featured everywhere during Helsinki Design Week and Habitare – living fair. Together with my colleague Vilma Issakainen, we were sparring with the National Museum in renewing the main exhibition, one of the themes of which is – of cource - the Finns relationship with forests. Nature's interest has even turned into a profession. Wilderness and environmental management training is filled with people from high-paying or at least stable jobs.

As I read Trend magazine, I wondered if this is the explanation to what I witnessed last week. Namely, I was in the woods with class teacher students studing at the University of Helsinki. The field course is compulsory for all 140 students. It is organized by University Lecturer Arja Kaasinen, a classroom teacher and biologist. Her passion for learning and teaching in nature is contagious! Arja is the initiator of the Finnish Children's Forest Trip Day in the spring. I have been involved as an forest expert in this field course for over ten years.

Let's go back to the trend. To my delight, I noticed that this year, all the students showed up for a field day dressed in hiking clothes. The branded handbags had been changed into backpacks, high heels into rubber boots or sneakers. The wounds were swinging in the wind and water. Nature's interest is contagious.

The most important goal of our course is to inspire students in outdoor education. And to discover how nature and forest teach easily and nicely as long as you are learned to read it. I teach groups of about 20 students at a time. Over the years, my teaching package has evolved into an intense story that includes information on tree species, tree growth and forest development, a new thema is carbon cycle. Forest management and products are part of the story. Arja, in turn, takes students to the world of water and meadows. The teachers' own enthusiasm seemed to catch on. One young woman snorted, "I didn't know that nature education can be so fun!"

I hope that future teachers will continue to be interested in the forest, even when the fashion changes.

P.S My colleagues said that there is a need to refine my source. Trend is a fashion magazine for young women. I myself followed Trend in my youth. A good brand lasts and stays on time 😊

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