A s I write this, (20.April.2020), we are currently in a lockdown situation whereby we can only make essential journeys for food and medication. We are allowed to leave our homes for exercise and fresh air within our local area which is having some benefits.
All the state forests are ‘closed’ as the car parks are shut. People who live locally can walk in them so long as they take health precautions like ‘social distancing’. While lockdown continues, there are also limited forestry operations occurring to supply mills with timber for essential building.
Self-employed Forest Pedagogues are unable to work at the moment because of the lockdown. All schools and nurseries are closed with the exception of a few ‘Hubs’ kept open for children of, for example, key workers. From images I have seen in the press it looks like the children are allowed out to play but I don’t know of any local woodland sessions going on.
Forest Pedagogues are very ingenious and creative though and some people have been posting activities online. There are plenty of resources online about trees and forests and how to use them at home for learning. We are looking at ways of making a collection of them and sharing through the OWL network and other forestry websites. We are in contact with forestry colleagues in England and Wales to collaborate on this collection. Our network with other Scottish Government environmental and education agencies has‘ The Outdoor Learning Directory’ website with a news section that has links to activities from other websites.
Bonnie and I are sharing ideas on the Scottish Forestry staff briefing to help our colleagues who are not only working from home but trying to home educate as well. We hope the ideas, for play and learning outdoors, not only help our colleagues understand what we do but also allows some time for learning and playing together in the trees and woods.
Some of these ideas have been summarised in the Outdoor and Woodland Learning Scotland (OWL Scotland) latest bulletin. The bulletin outlines how groups are keeping in contact and managing meetings at this time. Some groups, because of large distances in rural areas, were already using video or phone conferencing to keep in touch and this approach continues to build at this time of lockdown. If you would like to receive future bulletins please subscribe for free.
OWL Scotland has postponed a few events, including our Early Years weekend in May. We will reschedule although no date has been set yet – sign up to the bulletin to receive updates.
We have been working on our programme of Forest Kindergarten training and providing other support like ‘how to manage your woodland site’ which will all be online at some point soon!
We have, and will, share the posts from our European partners on the Outdoor and Woodland Learning Scotland Facebook page. Keep them coming as it is great to share ideas.
All the best to you all from Scotland. Please keep well and we look forward to meeting in Luxembourg 2021.