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More than just trees: how Tiny Forest is inspiring life-long relationships with nature

On a bright winter day in February 2021, our Tiny Forest team at Earthwatch Europe came together with Queensmead Primary Academy at their playing field in Leicester to plant a Tiny Forest. The project was funded by the OVO Foundation, in collaboration with Leicester City Council.  

Photo credit: Queensmead Primary Academy

What is Tiny Forest?

Tiny Forest is designed to boost biodiversity in urban areas and create accessible green space for communities to reconnect with nature. Schools can use the forests for outdoor education, so that children can create meaningful relationships with nature, and local ‘Tree Keeper’ volunteers can help look after the forests, building a sense of community ownership. 

Queensmead Primary Academy's story

The children attending Queensmead live within one of the most socially deprived areas in the UK. They grow up facing many challenges and don’t get to have the opportunities many children in Britain take for granted. This is a big motivation for the academy, who wish to inspire future aspirations and provide experiences that these children wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.  

Liz Latham is the principal of Queensmead Primary. She’s passionate about focussing on personal development, as well as a vast array of character-building opportunities built into all aspects of school life. Liz, and her colleagues at the school, want to inspire children to develop as members of both the school and wider community. They want to help them to understand their responsibilities as national and global citizens both now and into the future. 

With a global focus on environmental education, ecological awareness and sustainability, the school community is embracing all opportunities for pupils which focus on these key areas. As Tiny Forest is all about creating nature-rich habitats and supporting more resilient urban spaces, it aligned perfectly with their mission.  

With the support of the OVO Foundation, Earthwatch Europe worked with the academy to plant their own Tiny Forest, run an educator workshop online and in-person, and host a Science Day with 240 students.

 

Photo credit: Queensmead Primary Academy 

Impact of the Tiny Forest

Pupils thoroughly enjoyed themselves in whatever tasks they took part in, from planting and mulching to measuring and recording as well as just sitting, reflecting and being still. John said “It was really cool because we will get to see the forest grow with us.” And Mcorley felt that “… it would be good for the environment and our planet to learn about insects, forests, trees and more.” Jessica liked “… how we were working together for the trees and the planet.” And Chase loved “identifying the tree species, because I like looking for things and seeing the precise data.” 

 Liz Latham said,

For our school and students, the Tiny Forest provides a fantastic opportunity to be part of something which has an impact locally, nationally and globally, by developing their knowledge about biodiversity as citizen scientists, pupils understand what affects the natural world in their local area and can link to Tiny Forests in other parts of the country/world to be part of a wider network – this increases their sense of belonging and responsibility.  
They’re learning new, transferrable skills which provide a good grounding for their future.” 

By offering new opportunities to enrich their learning experience, helping to develop life skills such as empathy and problem-solving, and opening them up to the benefits of nature, this Tiny Forest is helping to empower these students to take action for the planet now and in the future. 

Photo credit: Queensmead Primary Academy

Earthwatch will be returning this year to work with the students and educators once again. We hope to empower their ongoing use of the Tiny Forest as an inspirational learning space and catalyst for positive environmental action for years to come.   

Find out more about Tiny Forest here.  

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