Annual Congresses

Annual Congresses

Annual Congresses

18thEuropean Forest Pedagogics Congress 2024

Yundola, Bulgaria, 2nd- 5th September 2024

“European Forests stressed by Fire, Drought and Storm – A challenge for Forest Pedagogy!”

This is the motto of the 18th European Forest Pedagogic Congress. It will take place in Yundola, close to Velingrad town in Bulgaria and will be hosted by Executive Forest Agency in Bulgaria in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the University of Forestry in Bulgaria.

Focus of the Congress

In the three congress days, full with lectures, workshops, and activities directly in the forest all the participants will be able to deal with the most recent forest pedagogy matter. They will have the opportunity to discuss the challenges among the forest pedagogues, related to working and presenting the problems of forests stressed by natural disturbances, such as fires, drought and storms.

The impact of the climate change will also be а topic of discussion. Main aspect of all discussions will be how to present and implement forest pedagogy activities related to this important for the whole society issue. Keynote speakers are invited to present different aspects of the theme, and also to moderate small working spaces, in which, the participants will be able to discuss and propose various ways to deal with these challenges, as well as to communicate and present them through forest pedagogy activities. In addition, the physiological aspects on how to present sensitive forest topics or matter that might be uncomfortable for the children`s mind or for the general public will also be discussed.

The hosts of the Congress have though not only for the productive work, but also for the pleasant experience of all participants and have prepared several side activities, that will give the chance to all foreign participants to feel Bulgarian spirit and culture, to taste traditional Bulgarian cuisine and to listen to the Bulgarian folklore music. An optional excursion to the oldest nature park on the Balkan Peninsula is also proposed for those who decide to stay a day longer in Bulgaria or to leave the country late in the evening.

The registration will open on the 1st of May 2024 and will close two months later on 30th of June.
More information about the 18th European Forest Pedagogics Congress and the registration is available on the following website:

17th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2023

Bonn, Germany, 20th- 22nd September 2023

„Learning to create together ‒ How can Forest Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) build partnerships and empower people?”

This was the motto of the 17th European Forest Pedagogic Congress. It took place in Königswinter, close to Bonn in Germany and was hosted by the Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (German association for the protection of the forests). This year, it combined the established SDW Forest Pedagogy Conference and the European Forest Pedagogics Congress from the FCN Subgroup Forest Pedagogics in one event. 160 People from 25 countries joined the congress.

Focus of the Congress

With lectures, workshops, and activities directly in the forest for three days the participants dealt with the main topics “empowerment” and “building partnerships” and shared experiences and knowledge, and enjoyed being in the forest. Miss Brehm's side event, a science slam theatre, brought the forest animal lynx closer to the participants in an entertaining way. One important task of this congress was to contribute to Forest Europe (Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe), which is a Pan-European high-level forest policy process. In this period Germany/Bonn leads this process to develop common strategies on how to protect and manage sustainably forests in Europe. Therefore, the participants worked out in small groups statements concerning challenges and chances of Forest ESD. High quality Forest ESD among all target groups of all ages throughout their lives is important to raise awareness of the importance of Forests and to empower people to act sustainably for forests. At least this voice of the congress should be included as a field of action in the Forest Europe declaration 2024. You will find the results, lectures, and impressions of the 17th European Forest Pedagogics Congress on the following website:

16th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2022

Zürich, Switzerland, 11th- 13 th may 2022

How to learn in and with nature in times of climate crisis? European perspectives and solutions

It is undisputed that education must contribute to combating climate change. It is also clear that environmental education is predestined for this. This is especially true for Forestpedagogy and nature-based environmental education.

But what can we do this and how can it be effective? This and similar questions were discussed:
  • What does contemporary Forestpedagogy look like in times of climate change? What projects, programmes and approaches are there?
  • How can/should forestpedagogic offers be designed so that they make a contribution against climate change? And how can they be further developed?
  • How can insights from climate education enrich the Forestpedagogic methodology?

In 3 days the nature schools of Zurich, Wildnispark Zurich, Sihlwald and the SILVIVA Foundation welcomed around 120 forest educators to the 16th European Forest Pedagogics Congress. More than 20 workshops were offered by partners and participants. We visited Sihlwald, the Hönggerberg Nature School and the Forest Laboratory in Zurich, and discussed what we had experienced and learned and how to proceed further at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Rüschlikon. During the 16th European Forest Pedagogics Congress the contribution of forest pedagogy and learning in nature to deal with the climate crisis was discussed. We saw practical examples, exchanged experiences and laid the foundations for further effective actions at home and abroad.

Almost 120 participants of the European Forest Pedagogics network from all over Europe (including about 55 from Switzerland) spent almost a year preparing for the congress, developing new forest education projects or improving existing ones. At the congress, they exchanged their best practices for effective climate education on the ground, learned from each other and supported each other in improving.

Due to the planning and form of the congress, the participants were sent on a learning journey to learn as much as possible from each other before, during and after the congress in terms of content, methodology and organisation. In our opinion, the project has shown how forest pedagogics and environmental education can contribute to tackling the climate crisis as effectively as possible.

The congress has certainly supported the intended goals of (forest) education providers doing effective climate education and (European) congresses being more climate neutral in the future.

See the congress review here:

15th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2021

ONLINE, Luxemburg, 2nd (3th) June 2021

Forests for Human well-being – more important than ever

Under the motto „ Forests for Human well-being – more important than ever”, 185 participants from 25 countries were registered for this congress.

The Luxemburg Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, the Nature Conservation Agency, the Forest Communicators' Network / Subgroup - Forest Pedagogics and the Association of Luxembourgish Foresters had invited to the 15th EU Forestpedagogics Congress.

The evidence on the importance of forests and nature areas, as a whole, for human well-being is growing. Forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services and are more than ever important recreation areas for physical activities, stress relief and relaxation. A ride through the forest, as a place of quietness, can especially be considered as a privileged moment to escape from the daily life in order for reinvigoration. These experiences help people to reconnect with nature and to awaken their senses. According to the topic, this year’s congress aimed to emphasize the well-being functions of our forests with a view to stimulate a holistic forest pedagogical approach and to promote cooperation between the different stakeholders. Unfortunately, due to Covid, the congress could not take place physically. Nevertheless, it was important to us although to organize the 15th FP congress in a shortened digital version.

Keynote 1

Positive effects of forests on human health and well-being. What does research say? (Presentation)
Speaker: Dr. Liz O’Brien

Liz O’Brien is Head of the Social and Economic Research Group at Forest Research. Forest Research is a government research institute in the United Kingdom. Liz’s research explores well-being and the cultural ecosystem benefits of trees and woodlands including a strong focus on the health benefits of engagement with trees and woodlands – physical, mental and social. She was previously involved in two European COST Actions: 1) Forests and human health, 2) Urban forests and green infrastructure, as well as the UK National Ecosystem Assessment Project on shared, social and cultural values. She was recently involved in two European expert groups: one on forests and human health, and the other on mental wellbeing and green and blue space.

Liz O’Brien talked about the evidence concerning the health and wellbeing benefits of forests and wider nature, highlighting some of the health challenges we face and the impacts of Covid-19 both in terms of health and in terms of people’s connection to nature. A study at the National Arboretum in England that Liz mentioned did include people outlining how they were able to find space in the arboretum to connect with themselves and think about themselves differently and less as someone with a mental health problem. A lot of the research outlines that people use contact with nature and forests to reflect and feel part of something bigger and work through some of their concerns and worries.

Keynote 2

Education of Forest health trainers as forest therapists (Presentation)
Speaker Prof. Otmar Fuchß
(University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg)

Prof. Otmar Fuchß is professor with the subject forest pedagogics and lecturer in the course “forest mindfulness trainer” or “forest therapist” at the SRH mobile University, one of the largest private German distance-learning universities. Right at the beginning of his lecture, Prof. Fuchß showed the difficulties with the terms that were invented in the context of the so-called "forest bathing" and which sometimes express the different goals. Furthermore, Prof. Otmar Fuchß went into the University of Applied Forest Sciences "part" in the development and implementation at the SRH university certificate course for training as a “forest mindfulness trainer /-therapist”.

The lecture dealt with the following main topics:

  • Clarifying : mindfulness in the forest/nature: „ Forest bathing and Forest therapy “
  • Potential of this topic for the FP
  • Analysis of the current forest & health trainer market using the example of “Baden Würtemberg”
  • Opportunities for cooperation between the forest and the health sector
In his Keynote, Prof. Otmar Fuchß finally gave his concerns in order to warn forest educators - without an appropriate background - to become therapeutic. This is not a task for forest educators! But, forest educators can benefit directly and indirectly from the "Shinrin Yoku - wave" and new research activities in the environment by getting further arguments. Forest educators usually have a relatively large repertoire of methods in this area. This knowledge can be very helpful, especially for trainers in the field of health prevention and likewise for forest mindfulness trainers or therapists who are not yet so familiar with the possibilities the forest has to offer (Quote Otmar Fuchß ).

Keynote 3

Forestbathing and Foresttherapy – Mindfulness for whom and what?
Speaker: Verena Schatanek (Switzerland – Experienced Forest Pedagogue) & Rolf Jucker (Switzerland – Environmental Educator- Managing Director SILVIVA)

Film 1 Schatanek Jucker Mindfulness In Nature
Film 1 Schatanek Jucker Mindfulness In Nature

At the beginning, Verena Schatanek quoted from the joint book with Michael Huppertz: “ Nowhere mindfulness is easier than in nature & nature depends on nothing more than on mindfulness of people”.

The two keynote speakers concluded that we don’t need to rethink mindfulness but we should know what mindfulness really means. The more we let nature work on us, the more careful we become. Mindfulness is the art to really be in the nature and not just to experience it as a backdrop.

Mindfulness is a topic which quite a few people feel very passionate about (no pun intended). Rolf Jucker added in the congress-chat, that a mindful approach would be to reflect very self-critically on our own conceptions of mindfulness and get out of our own preconceived ideas. So: no answers, but the invitation to reflect with an open mind on our practices, whether we call them mindful or not.

Further, the lecture dealt with the following topics :

  • From inside to outside: not focus on individual Well-Being (Me, Myself & I), but mindfulness as a school of perception: what is happening around us, with the forest, with us in the sick forest, with the world, with us in this world
    - „Can you "bathe" in the forest and inhale the scent of spruce for its biochemical substances, to strengthen your own health and overlook it, how damaged the apparently vital trees are in reality?“
  • Mindfulness as a committed, critical, reflexive attitude, not as a neutral non-interest, not as an unreflect part of „positive Psychology“, „Well-being industry“.
  • Differentiation instead of bliss
  • Demonstrate: Mindfulness exercises with school classes in a wildlife Park
  • How the potential can be implemented
  • For which target group and (not only adults but also school classes)
  • Opportunities and Limits

The keynote 3 included a participatory approach by means of two break-out sessions. These workshops showed at the same time , in an original way, that digital congresses also can be designed to be interactive.

Topic related poll by moderation for the plenary

During the morning session, the congress was loosened up by a topic related poll by moderation for the plenary. Unfortunately, the time to responding was a bit tight, so that not all participants could answer.

The results of the survey will give you a first tendency overview.


14th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2019

Riga and Tervete, Latvia, 1st – 4th july 2019
Designing bridges between Forest and schools

Designing bridges between forest and schools - this was the motto for the 14th European Forest Pedagogics Congress that took place in Riga and Tērvete from 1 to 4 July, bringing together around 170 educators and foresters from 18 countries around the world. The event was organized by JSC “Latvia’s State Forests” (LVM) in cooperation with international Forest Communicators Network – Subgroup Forest Pedagogics, the National Centre for Education and Riga Technical University (RTU).

The European Forest Pedagogics Congress is an annual forum for participants to exchange ideas and experiences in the field of forest pedagogy. The succession of the congress is provided by the Forest Communicators Network – Subgroup Forest Pedagogics, which is part of the UNECE Timber Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry and FAO European Forestry Commission.

Within the framework of this international congress in Latvia 12-hour further education courses for teachers were also held. This time teachers were especially encouraged to become real-life forest pedagogues continuing the idea of learning "together" that was iniciated a year before in Finland. In total 50 teachers from different schools of Latvia were invited to learn from each other as well as from forest professionals and other congress participants gathered in Riga Technical university. Guntars Catlaks, Head of the National Centre for Education, emphasised at the opening of the congress: “The new national education standard offers enormous opportunities for Latvian teachers to relate learning to real life, and forest is a perfect place to hold top quality learning process where students not only acquire knowledge and skills but also a number of different competences specific and crucial for the 21st century.”

This idea was also supported in the opening speech by Jānis Eglītis, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Latvia: “Forest occupies more than 52 percent of the territory of Latvia, and it is our responsibility to take care of it. The professional development of teachers is very important in this area, because it contributes to a deeper understanding of sustainable forest management.”

During the congress, teachers at RTU Faculty of Power and Electrical Engineering discussed and listened to lectures on experience of Latvia, Germany and the Czech Republic in forest pedagogy, as well as participated in 11 workshops. These workshops offered them an opportunity to find out how to incorporate forest education in school programmes, how to use geospatial systems in the process of learning about the environment, how to work hand in hand with forest industry experts and teachers, and how to build top quality learning content.

Part of the congress was held in Latvia's State Forests Nature Park in Tērvete, where representatives of the “Skola 2030” project and the association “Green Homes” together with the scholarship contest “LVM Bio-economy School” participants from Jelgava Spīdola State Gymnasium introduced those present with their visions about how schools could build a bridge between forest and education in the future. Participants discussed practices for the implementation of competence education and challenges, such as curriculum planning, time constraints, and student performance assessment.

There were also activities organised by the participants themselves, which allowed them to become students once again and enjoy the learning process in the forest. These activities involved practical tasks, attentive listening and team work. Pigman, the patron of the LVM “Do not Litter the Forest!” campaign, showed forest educators how work with pre-school children is organised in Latvia.

Summarizing the experience gained at the congress, the most important conclusions concerning the development of forest pedagogics in schools were highlighted:

  • Young people distancing away from nature is a global problem, as people spend more and more time indoors and in social networks. In general education schools, too, the process of learning about forest takes place mainly in premises, far away from the real forest environment, so it is necessary to promote the study process in nature, to develop competences employing all senses.
  • For decades Latvia's State Forests has been offering diverse forest environment education programmes for schools, with around 20 000 participants annually. This is part of diverse forest pedagogics support system for schools provided by many forest related companies and associations across Europe. The education reform in Latvia, as well as in other European countries provides a unique opportunity to improve and integrate the forest pedagocis experience accumulated as a result of the forest sector and school partnership into general schools of Europe.
  • As one of the most forested countries of Europe, Latvia has great potential to become a knowledge-based bio-economy country, incorporating forest pedagogy into the general education curriculum and developing students’ transversal competencies, especially entrepreneurship in relation to sustainable forestry and timber industry. Forest pedagogics network can contribute to development of bioeconmics all over Europe building stronger bridges between schools and forest.

At the end of the congress, participants shared their experience. Peter Fischer, representative of the German Forest Protection Association, said: “This was probably the best congress I have ever visited. The fact that there are young people in the organizers' team gives me confidence that this generation will bring forest education to a new level.”

The congress organizers in Latvia are greatful to many supporters: Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Institute “MeKa”, Latvian Forest Research Institute “Silava”, JSC “Latvijas Finieris”, associations “Zaļās mājas” and “Bērnu vides skola”, Interdisciplinary Centre for Educational Innovation at the University of Latvia and project ”Skola2030”. The congress was financially supported by the Latvian Environmental Protection Fund.

Links to:

Key-note speakers and PRESENTATIONS
Market of activities

13th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2018

Pudasjärvi, Finland, 2 - 5 October 2018
TOGETHER in Forest Pedagogy - How to involve and participate children and youth in learning, decision making and planning

From 2nd to 5th October the European Forest Pedagogy Network (Subgroup of FCN/FAO) held its 13th annual congress in Pudasjärvi (Finland). 100 participants from 17 European states, Japan and China joined the conference and for one day more than 50 pupils mainly from secondary classes, aged from 15 to 18, were integrated in the workshops. The Finish Forest Association and the Finish 4H Federation, financially supported by the Finish Forest Foundation, organized and hosted the Congress.

It was the first time in the in the history of Congresses, that teenagers and students joined as participants. So the congress-motto “Together - How to involve and participate children and youth in learning, decision making and planning” was practically realized. This dedicates to the global objectives of the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World-Action-Program (WAP) for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The WAP as well as the SDG´s are highlighting teenagers and young adults as the “change agents” for being decision-makers for a liveable future in order to cope with the increasing worldwide challenges.

In 4 keynotes – reciprocally complementing each other - highranking scientists and experts for education delivered important findings and proposals, how to connect Forestpedagogy with participatory – concepts.

Marjaana Manninen (Counsellor of Education at the Finnish National Agency for Education)
presented the new finish national Core curriculum in which ESD has high priority. So the curricula as well encourages schools and teachers to use outdoor – learning surroundings, as to place high emphasis on pupil’s participation. It also mandates the schools to foster intensively on partnerships with the surrounding regional and local society and their interest-groups. The curricula highlights new approaches in learning like “Phenomenon based learning” or “Multidisciplinary education modules” combining different subjects with project-orientated teaching methods. This might be done in some other European states too, but the finnish way of implementing these objectives is totally different and highly participatory: The curricula isn´t given to the schools by “top-down-regulation”, it is transformed into a school-typical curricula, within an open process including all the involved partners like teachers, pupils, parents or local markets.

A living example about how these core objectives can be put into practice was impressively shown by Mikko Lumme (Principal of Hirsicampus/Log campus in Pudasjärvi). He explained Hirsicampus as “creative Learning-environment” bringing together the different given resources, like forests and timber, water, regional food and healthy nutrition or typical sports-disciplines. This holistic approach of combining different dimensions of sustainable development leads to developing Hirsicampus´ own school-philosophy, focusing especially on the cooperation of the different age-groups of pupils, taking care for each other.

Finally Nina Tokola (Postdoctoral Professor, University of Eastern Finland; “All youth project”) completed the keynotes showing the design of a new research-project for developing solutions for youth participation and sustainable wellbeing. For that the researchers are communicating with teenagers and young adults from the age of 16 to 29 about their visions about future forests, their own role and activity within their environments of the future and about their key ideas for sustainable growth, bioeconomy and environmental citizenship. They are also discussing and analyzing their later employment wishes, focusing intensively on the principle, that “it´s mainly not about future professions, but much more about skills and competences”.

The Congress was enriched with a huge variety of 15 different workshops (90 minutes) and about 15 market of possibilitiy-offers (30 minutes), showing best-practice-examples of forestpedagogy-activities.

At the end of the 13th European Forestpedagogy-Congress the participants and the hosting organizations summarized their conclusions as following:

  • Forestpedagogs are challenged to increase their activities with participatory offers and projects, creating real-life-situations.
  • There is an urgent need to develop more Forest Pedagogy offers for teenagers and young – adults, as they are the “change-agents” in a world, wanting to achieve the SDG´s of the UN-agenda 2030.
  • Core objectives and core competences of ESD have not yet reached the teachers as well as a lot of forestpedagogues! So the cooperation between schools/teachers and forestpedagogues/forests needs new inputs and conceptual impulses.
  • The 14th European Forest Pegagogics Congress in Riga (1st – 4th july 2019) will focus on this tasks.

13th European Forest Pedagogics Congress links:

12th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2017

Milovy, Czech Republic, 3 - 6 October 2017
Forestpedagogy – adventures between communicating and educating

The two congress days presented keynotes related to two of the objectives of the Forestpedagogy-strategy of the FCN Subgroup.

A: Forest owners, forest administration and forest enterprises are communicating about management of their forests through Forestpedagogy activities.

B: Forestpedagogy is an educational process to reach environmental maturity and Forestpedagogy is a prime example for ESD.

The keynotes were presented by Emma Berglund (Confédération Européenne des Propriétaires Forestiers), Jiří Svoboda (Forest Cooperative Přibyslav), Martin Šrom (Lipka – school facility for environmental education) and Rolf Jucker (Stiftung SILVIVA). Special presentation was delivered by Dirk Schmechel (Bavarian State Forestry Institute), who summarized key points from the scientific papers presented at the 125th Anniversary IUFRO Congress 2017. The congress topic was wrapped up in the panel discussion. The conclusion of the panel is that forest pedagogy can be both education for sustainable development and mean of communication for forest owners and managers. And these two perspectives do not exclude each other, but may be combined in forest pedagogics programmes.

The congress gathered 129 participants from 17 countries. Besides lectures each participant could have attended 2 workshops, each 2 hours long and 7 forest pedagogics activities, each 20 min long. Participant also joined the Market of Projects in which they could comment on running forest pedagogics projects. The congress was closed by two excursions – one was to Eden Centre, where participants visited the traditional Vysocina village, the pavilion with enviro-friendly technologies and took part in a craft workshop. The other was to Žďár nad Sázavou, where a New generation museum was visited and then to Staré Ransko to join the programme “A Day with a Forester” – a successful forest pedagogics programme for schools by Forest Cooperative Přibyslav.

The congress was opened by Patrik Mlynář, Deputy Minister of the Agriculture of the Czech Republic, Jiří Běhounek, President of the Vysočina Region, Dirk Schmechel from the FCN-subgroup-Forest pedagogy, Jaroslav Kubišta, Deputy Director of the Forest Management Institute Czech Republic, Ondřej Kopecký from the Forests of the Czech Republic, state enterprise and František Kučera, President of The Association of Municipal and Private Forest Owners in the Czech Republic. The closing day was visited by Tomáš Krejzar, Director of the Department of Forest Policy and Economy, Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic.

The congress was hosted by Forest Management Institute, Czech Republic, in cooperation with the Working Group for Forest Pedagogy in the Czech Republic (established by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic) and the FCN-subgroup-Forest pedagogics. The congress was supported by Forests of the Czech Republic, state enterprise and Vysočina Region.

13th European Forest Pedagogics Congress will be held in Pudasjärvi, Finland on October 2018.

Keynote lectures:

Emma Berglund, Confédération Européenne des Propriétaires Forestiers
Forest owners are communicating about the management of their forests(in English)

Jiří Svoboda, The Association of Municipal and Private Forest Owners in the Czech Republic
Forest owners and forestry companies communicate the forest management through forest pedagogy (in Czech)

Martin Šrom, Lipka – school facility for environmental education
Are the activities of forest pedagogy fruitful? (partly in Czech)

Rolf Jucker, Stiftung Silviva
How does Forest Pedagogy contribute to Education for Sustainable Development? (in English)

Dirk Schmechel, Bavarian State Forestry Institute
Forestpedagogy meets IUFRO! (in English)

11th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2016

Biri, Norway, 24. - 26. October 2016
Bio-economy and Forestpedagogics – a great chance for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

The 11th European Forest Pedagogics Congress in Biri, Norway, gathered 70 participants form 17 nations. The theme of the congress was bioeconomy, and how this can be a chance to focus on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, ecologic, and social.

In the first keynote of the congress, Jon Bingen took us on an historical journey to explain why bioeconomy is not just a good idea, but also necessary and inevitable. Both for the international economics and politics, it is a good idea to move away from petroleum and towards biomass. Biomass is more evenly distributed, and will give opportunities to more nations.

In our work with the children, this is an opportunity to show them, discuss with them and challenge them on all the possibilities for the future. At the same time, as Victoria W. Thoresen emphasized in her keynote, we must convey to the new generation how nature is a necessary basis. Our forests must be managed in a sustainable matter. This is not only a job for the forest manager, but also for the consumers.

Bioeconomy is very complex matter. To impart the basic knowledges, the challenges, and finally the possibilities of bioeconomy, is a difficult task. Dr. Günter Dobler explained in his keynote how stories can help you convey the whole picture. Using stories could be a way to get your message through.

Bioeconomy is the story of both challenges and possibilities. Hopefully this congress has given us some knowledge, practical experiences, inspiration, and tools to tell this story in our environmental education and in encounters with the public.

10th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2015

Zvolen/Slovakia, 29th September – 1st October 2015
Quo vadis Forestpedagogy? Outlooks after 10 years of networking in Europe.

The 10th European Forestpedagogy Congress in Slovakia (Zvolen, 29th sept – 1st oct 2015) underlined that more and more states can tell success-stories about their activities in forest related environmental education. 140 participants from 15 states discussed the future challenges forestpedagogy is faced with and about how the higher steps forestpedagogs in Europe still have to take.

Societies are in a change

Philippe Pypaert, from the UNSCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, emphasized in his keynote, that various environmental, demographical, social and political changes are challenging the societies worldwide. Problems like the supply with energy or food, the reduction of the ecological footprint, the preservation of biodiversity or the solution of urbanization and migration must be solved globally. Presenting the Global action plan for Education for sustainable development (ESD) as follow-up program of the UN-decade (2005-2014) for ESD, he focused on the necessity, that Forestpedagogs shouldn´t offer the topic “Forests” or “Forestry” in a separated or sectoral manner. Forest-related topics must be linked and connected with other topics (for example water, energy, ecological footprint, climate change, biodiversity) which can´t be discussed without the forest-sector, when a global and sustainable view is required.

The way people are communicating is in a change

Internets, new media and social communities are dominating increasingly todays concepts of communication. PR-expert and media-analyst Miroslav Kollár explained in his key-note that forestpedagogs have to use these tools in order to transfer their offers and success stories just in time. He pointed out that the messages must be actual, short, simple, positive and they should clearly show the benefit for those to whom they are addressed to.

Darina Výbohová, from the Methodical and Pedagogical Centre if Slovakia, illustrated, that learning methods and strategies of learning at school must develop, to reach the objectives of ESD. Especially interaction, self-discovering learning and possibilities for participation should be integrated in todays school-curricula. Therefore the personal contact between pupils and the forester as an authentic practitioner shouldn´t be missing, when learning is about forests. For this purpose the congress offered 10 workshops and a market of activities, with best-practice-examples in Forestpedagogy and possibilities for exchanging experiences.

The dialogue about forests and forestry is in change

The increasing amount and variety of interests referring to forests and their management also leads to more discussions about what is right or wrong, how the forest should be managed or not and which service or function should have priority. This dialogue is showing the wish of many people and interest groups to participate, cooperate or to take responsibility for the protection of forests or species. In the public perception the “protector” often is the “hero” and the forester is the “wicked” – cutting the trees for making money. But such discussions or even conflicts can also be taken as a chance for bringing the different actors on a round table.

So Quo vadis Forestpedagogy?

Taking this changes into consideration, the conclusions and consequences for forestpedagogs became obvious in this 10th European congress. When the amount and the variety of interests in services and functions of forests is increasing, forestpedagogs can lead the dialogue between the different actors, their conflicts and discussions. Even if Forestpedagogy won´t have the solution for every problem, it might offer free space for coming together, discussing about compromises and give impulses for the actors to find self-reliant solutions.

Therefore more cooperation and participation, not only within the forest and timber sector, but also with actors and interest-groups from education, environment, biodiversity, the social-cultural-spiritual sector or others is necessary.

Finally forestpedagogs must raise more awareness in public, policy and society. They have a lot of good stories to tell in which they don´t need to be the hero, but the moderator and mediator of forest-topics and in in forest/forestry-related discussions, conflicts or projects.

Keynote 1
Title: The Global Action Program on Education for Sustainable Development: Perspectives and Practices from the Network of Biosphere Reserves in Europe
Speakers: Philippe Pypaert; ESD Program Specialist, Science Unit, UNESCO Office, Venice
Time: 11:00 - 12:00 a.m

Keynote 2
Title: Is Forestpedagogy capable of tackling “learning for sustainability” concept?
Speakers: Darina Výbohová; The Methodology and Pedagogy Centre, Slovakia

Keynote 3
Title: How to make communication related to Forestpedagogy more effective in the present media world?
Speaker(s): Miroslav Kollár, Journalist, Media-analyst, DG of the news agency, consultant of the Ministry of culture of the Slovak Republic, Slovakia

9th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2014

Lagów/Poland, 10th to 12th September 2014
„Forestpedagogy – More than telling about forests!”

Short report and conclusions

Under the motto „Forestpedagogy – More than telling about forests!" 120 participants coming from 15 states attended the 9th European-Forestpedagogy-Congress from the 9th – 12th of September in Lagow/Poland.

These 120 forestpedagogs, teachers, educators and foresters discussed on this congress-topic, shared experiences or best practice examples and focussed on new challenges and items Forestpedagogy in Europe is faced with. The hosting organizations were the Polish State Forest Enterprise, the Polish Forest Educators Association and the FCN Subgroup Forestpedagogy.

This year congress wanted to show how forestpedagogy can benefit the human being and how it impacts on responsible citizenship. Practical and innovative approaches visualized, that Forestpedagogy can be more than just knowledge transfer. Because forests – as an ideal model for sustainability - deliver a lot of different values, services and merits to human beings. And: Forestpedagogy programs are more and more demanding for pedagogical impacts on all aspects of human competences.

The congress indicated, that the last ten years of Forestpedagogy in Europe are full of of success-stories in an constantly increasing number of european states. Meanwhile the exchange of Best-practice and Networking for Forestpedagogy in Europe is highly developed (... however still some states are not yet included). Furthermore Projects and Programmes increasingly adress to new target groups, integrate partners to cooperate and develop in quality by offering more than just knowledge – transfer.

But Forestpedagogy – so the congress resumed - is also challenged to climb the higher steps of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Forestpedagogs must intensify the dialogue with groups of all forest-related interests in society and with partners from education. Therefore Forestpedagogogs must identify urgent topics in society (for example health, energy, ..) and develop good fitting Forestpedagogy-offers to get into a dialogue about this themes.

If the different actors are able to succeed in that, than Forestpedagogy will enter political dimensions and so awareness for Forestpedagogy in society and policy will increase.

Opening speech

Dirk Schmechel, FCN-Subgroup-Forestpedagogy
More than telling about Forests

Keynote lectures

Prof. Dr. Anna Kalinowska, Warsaw University, Poland
Educating for Sustainable Development

Bjørn Helge Bjørnstad, Forestry Extension Institute, Norway
Five Steps to Environmental Maturity, from FP to ESD

Krzysztof J. Kwiatkowski, Polish Survival School Association, Poland
Discover Yourself in the Forest

Dr. Kerstin Ensinger, Forest Research Institute, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
Forests and Human Health

8th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2013

Bilbao/Spain, 23rd to 25th October 2013.
„Forestpedagogy: For Whom? What methods? How to approach?“
Short report and conclusions

Under the patronage of Bittor Oroz, Vice Consejero for agriculture and forestry in the Basque County, 105 delegates from 20 states took part at the 8th European Forestpedagogy Congress in Bilbao. As hosting partners the Union de Silvicultura del Sur de Europa (USSE), the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the Associacion de Forestales de Espana (PROFOR) had prepared the 8th European Congress of Forestpedagogy under the steering of the Subgroup Forestpedagogy (Forest-Communicators-Network, FCN).

Forestpedagogs in Europe – so the participants agreed - must continue to get especially children reconnected with nature. “Because a lot of children are having 100 friends on facebook but only one single friend on the street and because children are the mirror of the adults, and even of our whole earth.” On the other hand – the congress resumed - children should be picked up, where they are, living more and more in urban surroundings and in a technical, world-wide-internet-connected world. „We have to link and mingle urban and rural realities together as well as we must link technological realities with the necessity of environmental education.“

The congress concluded that Forestpedagogy in Europe has already achieved important milestones in the last years, like the development of an annual conference since 2006, the increase of experience-exchange, the raise of awareness in forestry, society and policy or the expansion in forestpedagogy - research and – science. But there are still big challenges to be tackled. The social and political awareness of Forestpedagogy particularly among the national and European Forestry policy and forest departments must develop further. The internal and external Communication on and about Forestpedagogy must increase and Networking and Cooperation between the different stakeholders should expand. Furthermore Forestpedagogy must be established as a recognised part of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and the quality of all aspects of Forestpedagogy must be improved continuously. Therefore the FCN-Subgroup actually is developing an Action Plan.

To reach their target-groups, the participants agreed upon, Forestpedagogy is challenged to focus more on the conflict-topics forests and forestry is faced with. But also new emerging topics, like "Forests, forestry and Health" should become a task for Forestpedagogs, who can "communicate forests as pathways to health".

Opening speech
Keynote lectures
Photo gallery

7th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2012

Scotland, Dunkeld, 2nd – 5th of October 2012
"Successful partnership working for Education for Sustainable Development"


110 delegates from 15 states took part at the 7th European Forestpedagogy Congress.
The congress concluded that Forestpedagogy in Europe is challenged to

  • focus more and more on successful partnership working and networking of the different actors to qualify Education for Sustainable Development. This can especially done by sharing and exploring examples of best practice.
  • provide networking opportunities for forest pedagogues from across the European Union and from other continents, with a view to sharing experience and knowledge to improve practice.
  • continue and develop further its efforts in forestpedagogy-research and -evaluation-studies as well as to share and explore recent research results relevant to Education for Sustainable Development from a forest pedagogy perspective.

To look at more summarized results and outcomes, the programme, or the list of Partcipants, please look at the congress-Report.

Contents and contributions
More Info

6th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2011 in Freising

Germany, Freising 24. – 27. July 2011
"Forest pedagogics – thinking global, acting local"


During the congress up-to-date concepts, research results and latest developments in the fields of forest pedagogics and Education for Sustainable Development were discussed. Experts from various nationalities presented their approaches to forest pedagogics with – hopefully – various benefits for the field work of the participants.

The congress was approved to be an official contribution to the UN-decade "Education for Sustainable Development" by the German commission of UNESCO.
The 160 participants from 18 states agreed upon, that ...

Forestpedagogy in Europe is challenged ...

  • to think and act global in its activities or projects.
    This can especially be done by implementing the criteria of ESD (f.e. competences of acting, global fairness, .. ) and by focussing on worldwide-relevant and forest/forestry-related topics (f.e. climate change, forestry and nature-conservation, water, energy).
  • to increase networking and coorporation with organisations and actors of all sectors of sustainable development (ecological, ecconomical, social, cultural).
  • to continue and develop further its efforts in forestpedagogy-research and -evaluation-studies.
  • to pursue the european process of coorporation and experience exchange, coordinated by the subgroup-FP-FCN (common objectives, annual congress, common quality standards, coherent concept).

Contents and contributions


More Info


5th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2010

Finland, Lahti 21. – 22. October 2010, Sibelius Hall
„Forestpedagogics – beneficial impacts on education and Society"


On The 6th European Forest Pedagogics congress in Lahti 75 foresters, teachers, pedagogs and forest pedagogs from 18 european states discussed about the beneficial impacts of foretspeadgogy on education and society. The conclusions of the congress are containing a lot of succesful results but also pretentious challenges and important further steps for foretspeadgogy in Europe.

4th European Forestpedagogics Congress

Lyss, Switzerland, October 2009
"Results and prospects"

Forestpedagogics is needed – it is establishing itself and it is being considered by townsmen as indispensable, but more and more also by decision makers and opinion leaders.

We should consolidate on purpose and definition of Forestpedagogics.

Our European forestpedagogics network is now ready to be permanent discussion forum.

It is obvious: it no longer can only be all about, to generate a "positive attitude towards the, to explain forest and forestry...Because: Not the forest is the aim, but it is a mean to serve the people!

In fact it is about to let the people take part in our "understanding of sustainability", thus to "teach sustainability" at the example of the forest!

Therefore a new ambitious aim for forestpedagogics is important: The sustainable acting person. That is a quite good basis to enable the people to take on responsibility for themselves, for the fellow man and for the nature. Logically consistent forestpedagogics then would have to be defined as "forest-related education for sustainability" which conveys the long-term, holistic and public welfare oriented aspects of sustainability at a local, regional and global level.

Forestpedagogy has to cooperate with the school-education

Let us enforce our role as "junior partner" of the national education system, because terms like "alianation from nature", "sensory overload", "pauperisation of social competences", "loss of values", "lack of prospects", "violence"... characterize the contemporary discussion about the situation even at our schools.

Almost every offered category is adressed to pupil – rightly as I might add. This work is not restricted to a certain knowledge transfer. Because: At the "green classroom" rises the fun that can go along with learning. Here a networked interdisciplinary learning becomes concrete and you can really take things up. Prompt the forest offers different ways to deal with accumulated aggressions or hidden fears.

Forestpedagogics has to become a subject of EU-policy

Based upon the forest action plan and especially it's key action 10 "Encourage environmental education and information" we should do everything to make forestpedagogics a subject of EU-policy. The planed meatings on forestpedagogics of the FCN-Subgroup Forest related environmental education will serve for this purpose. Also within the the Union of European forester we want to emphasise this position of forestpedagogics as part of the EU-policy.

3rd European Forestpedagogy Congress

Burfelt, Luxembourg, 11th-13th June 2008

Due to the Invitation of the Luxembourg Department of the Environment, the forestry field office Wiltz and the forest discovery centre Burfelt (host) as well as of the initative group 61 participants out of 10 states (A, B, CH, CZ, D, F, HU, L, PL, SK) gathered.

They discussed questions and problems of the European Forestpedagogics in the meeting languages English, French and German (with simultaneous translation).

And this was the course:

June 11th , 2008

Most participants arrived and registered theselves till 18o'clock. They accommodated themselves and had then a casual "regular forestpedagogical get-together".

June 12th , 2008

In the morning the participants hat the the opportunity to "wood chin-wag", to have a look at the put up poster-presentations and to exchange leaflets and booklets...ono results, projects and programmes... A lot of attention as well as interest attracted the presented forestpedagogical appliences out of Brandenbourg (D).

After the official opening and welcoming by the Luxembourg hosts the ceremony "15 years Forest discovery centre Burfelt" followed.

The Forest discovery centre was presented as well as the nature experience centre strategies introduced to the Luxembourg forest administration.

After lunch the coordinator of the Europe network Thomas Baschny (A) opened the convention with his lecture "European Forestpedagogics has a future - capable of politics and purposeful". Hethereby elaborated on the so far accomplished.

  • Lectures on the following topics were extensively discussed :
  • wood relevant ESD projects with schools (L)
  • Forestpedagogics from the point of view of forest owner (A)
  • Forestpedagogics and ESD (D)
  • Forest politicy and forestpedagogics (D)
  • School and wood (F)
  • 16th European wood theatre (B)
  • Forestpedagogics on forest week (SK)

Afterwards the Luxembourg Department of the Environment invited to dinner which was followed by an exchange of experience and information as well as a comfortable get-together with many first conversations where the participants got to know each other better at the forest discovery centre.

June 13th, 2008

In the morning of the excursion day the participants were divided into 2 groups. All participants pass all the points of the excursion (solar boat, wood experience centre and nature reserve Pont Misere) aternately.

Before lunch the "European wood" was planted collectively at the Sauer reservoir (many participants had brought wood plants from their home country).

After the continuation of the excursions in the afternoon the offical closure of the convention followed at Lultzhausen (place of convention).

Network coordinator Thomas Baschny looked forward optimisticly look in his completion talk to the front: What can we expect from the forestpedagogical field within the next weeks and months, what will bring us the future? Which important tasks are to be solved conjointly and which claims are to be made?

He introduces first factual scheduled considerations in order to establish a "European forestpedagogical work schedule" and asked all participants for additions up to the 31st of July 2008.

The hosts plan on to create a conference volume in form of a CD-rom.

The next European forestpedagogics convention in 2009 is to be held in Switzerland.

2nd European forestpedagogy congress

Gmunden, Austria, 22nd - 23nd March 2007
"Forests for People"

97 participants from 15 European states (Austria, Slovenia, Czechia, Latvia, Croatia, Poland, Norway, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Portugal, Great Britain, Finland) took part.

The products of the project PAWS were among introduced: A training Programme seminar concept, a manual and a CD for the planning of forestpedagogical events.

The materials are available for free on

1st European Forest Pedagogics Congress

Hungary, Sopron 20. – 22. September 2006

The development of forestpedagogics in Europe was, main topic of the first international forestpedagogics convention which took place in the forest environmental centre of the Hungarian town Sopron (Ödenburg) from September 20th to 22nd 2006.

Representatives from eight European countries introduced their concepts and discussed the chances of forestpedagogics in a Europe growing together.

A "career in the administration" certified Dr. Albert Knieling, head of department in the Austrian life ministry, to forestpedagogics in his lecture "forestpedagogics as a part of the European forest policy". So far forestpedagogics is represented on pan-European only indirectly as a component of few resolutions and at UN level not at all. On an EU-level Ii is mentioned in the forest action plan for the years 2007-2011 and in the advice ordinance " development of rural area ". At a national level forestpedagogics appeared in all sorts of programmes since the first mention in 1990. The forest action plan (were forestpedagogics is on of 18 prior actions) now enables the networking of forestpedagogics within the European area as well as its elaboration. The member countries have now the opportunity to realize forestpedagogical measures . This might happen within the context of national plans for the development of the rural area, for example. “We get hold of it " he appealed to the conference participants. Knieling held the opinion that the career of the forestpedagogics will go on. He critically examined the present publicity of forestpedagogics in economy and politics. Particularly concerning the information stand of political decision makers he sees the necessity to improvement . Knieling sees deficits also in the previous political lobby work, which does not exceed a regional level due to a very individual appearance of the protagonists and insufficient networking resp. organisation .