South Africa is the 26th country joining Learning about Forest programme


We are delighted to announce that LEAF's presence globally is still increasing!

Foundation for Environmental Education's member organisation Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa will officially run the LEAF programme in South Africa.

Welcome to the LEAF network!

WESSA implements effective environmental, ecotourism, education and youth development programmes throughout South Africa. The organisation improves the school curriculum through education for sustainable development and provide critical work skills training, which creates job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods in local communities. WESSA's environmental initiatives contribute towards the restoration of ecosystems, while its ecolabels support tourism growth and development by encouraging responsible tourism practices and the improved management of coastline.

Learning about Forests Programme is now present in 26 countries around the world!

Find all LEAF National Offices on our website.

Forest Games 2017 in Norway

Norway has recently completed its first national Forest Games. The Forest Games is a competition in forest knowledge and outdoor activities, where all fifth grade pupils are invited to participate. Hundred schools throughout the entire country signed up, involving 2550 pupils. The first rounds were performed in the forests nearby the participating schools. Pupils participated in various activities, solved riddles and submitted reports with documentation of what they have done, found and learned. Many of the reports were made in a very beautiful and creative way, showing that the nature had inspired the classes. Based on these reports, 17 county winners qualified for the final.

On June 14, the final competition was held at the National Forest Museum. Each team was formed by four pupils. Without assistance of any kind, they had to complete various tasks. The pupils were tested in their knowledge of tree species, flora, insects, birds and bird sounds, animal tracks, wooden products, and waste management. In addition, their practical skills were tested, as they for instance had to shoot with air guns, tie a fly for fly fishing, row a boat, and make a bonfire.

In other words, winning the Forest Games required versatile skills in forest knowledge and outdoor life. Becoming the best school also required good cooperation within the team, and creativity.

The Forest Games is a collaboration between Forestry Extension Institute, Hamar Nature School, National Forest Museum, and Norwegian Forestry Society. The purpose is to increase the knowledge about forests and forestry among both pupils and teachers. Further, the goal is to give teachers ideas and inspiration to increase outdoor learning at school.

1 million children set to venture into the great outdoors

Teachers worldwide unite to reconnect students with the world beyond walls

Press Release by Project Dirt on Outdoor Classroom Day

Monday 15 May 2017: Over 1 million children in more than 8,000 schools around the world will step outside on Thursday 18 May and embrace the great outdoors, setting a new record for the Outdoor Classroom Day campaign. In the UK alone there are well over 400,000 children getting involved from Penzance to Shetland!

Project Dirt, the NGO that is leading the campaign globally, says it will be the highest number of youngsters ever to get outdoors on the day as part of a concerted global effort to make outdoor learning and play a cornerstone of every child’s day, and represents a new chapter in thousands of schools around the world.

The UK is the front-runner of the campaign and leading the way with nearly half a million children in over 3,000 schools signed up and ready to take part. From den-building and bioblitzing, to practising maths with stones and reading under trees, the day will see teachers take at least one class outdoors and help children embrace their nearby natural environments.

The last 30 years has seen a dramatic and steady decline in the amount of time children spend outdoors. A Public Health England study found that 50 percent of around 1.5 billion visits to parks and green spaces in England in 2015 involved a walk with a dog, but only nine percent of those were with a child. It also found that 12% of children (c 1.3 million) had never visited the natural environment in the previous 12 month period.1

The campaign is highlighting that not only does time outdoors improve children's health, wellbeing and happiness, it also gives them a strong connection to the natural world; a connection that is crucial if the next generation are to be the future guardians of our planet.

Richard Louv, the acclaimed author of The Nature Principle, invites us in a recent essay to imagine a world “where every school has a natural space where children experience the joy of learning through play once again. Where teachers are encouraged to take their students on field trips to the nearby woods and canyons and streams and shores. Where educators feel their own sense of hope and excitement returning to their profession and to their own hearts.”2

Nick Gardner, CEO and co-founder of of Project Dirt, and an environmental campaigner for over two decades, is worried. “Children will only grow up to protect the environment if they love it. They will only love it if they go outdoors regularly. That’s one key objective for Outdoor Classroom Day, to inspire schools worldwide to join together to make the outdoors part of every day!”

He added: “There’s still time to join the movement. Teachers, parents and anyone who cares about childhood and the future of our planet, can register their class to go outdoors on Thursday.”

To sign up, visit

The campaign is led globally by Project Dirt and supported by Unilever’s Dirt is Good brands.




For more information, images or to request interviews please contact Olivia Pullman:

E: M: 07792 919 314







Notes to editors

About Outdoor Classroom Day

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. It is encouraging schools worldwide to make outdoor learning and play part of every day.

In 2017, there are three key campaign dates: on May 18, 2017, the focus is on Europe, the USA, Canada and South America. On the day, thousands of schools will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.

About Project Dirt

Project Dirt aims to resource thousands of grassroots community projects, and to capture and share the stories of those achievements. Its online platform enables successful relationships to be formed between the business and community sectors.  Project Dirt's mission is to create a vibrant and active online community where individuals, communities, companies and local authorities can share knowledge, advice, best practice and access resources.

About Dirt is Good

Dirt is Good (DiG) is the campaign supported by Unilever’s leading detergent brands including OMO, Persil, Skip and Via, sold in over 78 markets. We believe that by getting dirty, children develop, learn and grow through rich memory-making experiences. These experiences often come in the form of ‘real play’: play that is free, exploratory and sometimes messy, allowing children to enjoy the present and thrive in the future. Our vision is to create a play-friendly world so that all children everywhere can experience play every day.

VIDEO: The story of the Tiny Forests in the Netherlands

More than fifty percent of the world’s population lives in an urban environment. Tiny Forests and trees in the city help the urban population to stay connected to nature while improving their lives with better air quality and lower instances of flooding.

Our member organisation in the Netherlands IVN has a significant experience in planting and maintaining Tiny Forests. 

Watch the video about the creation of the first Tiny Forest in the Netherlands.

Find out more about Tiny Forests in the Netherlands here


Latvia's Forest Olympians compete in Tērvete

Is forest increasing more that it is being harvested? Can lady tights be made out of wood? Which are pine and which are spruce seeds?

This year, teams of the final of Forest Olympics had to show their strength in two rounds – in the active and educational orienteering competition and in the presentation of creative performance. To participants’ minds the most memorable tasks from the 30 in the orienteering competition were the riddles in the Witch's Forest of the Nature Park, sawing the birch disc to precise 400 grams, and also recognising products that contain wood, which surprised not only children but also teachers with the wide possibilities of wood use.

To find out more about this wonderful event, please read the full report here.

Learning about Forests National Operators Meeting dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals and Tiny Forests

The Learning about Forests National Operators meeting 2017 took place on 24th-26th April in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The LEAF NOM is an annual event where the status and developments of the LEAF programme are discussed alongside innovations in the sector and plans for the future.

The LEAF NOM 2017 was hosted by FEE's Dutch member, IVN, and was underpinned by two main themes:

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - The role of Foundation for Environmental Education in promoting the SDGs worldwide with specific emphasis on what can be achieved through the LEAF programme.
  • Tiny Forests -The importance of urban forests and trees to battle climate change and stimulate biodiversity.

A concise document linking the LEAF programme to each and every SDG will be circulated soon and will include the insightful feedback which arose over what was an extremely productive few days.

The Tiny Forests initiative was very well received by the participants and there was a firm consensus that the LEAF programme should look towards integrating the concept into its plans for the future.

Thank you to everyone who made the event such a success through their active participation and engagement!

PRESS RELEASE: LEAF Global Action Days


Barry McGonigal, International LEAF Director | E:
Karine Galstyan, International LEAF Assistant | E:

Copenhagen, 17 March 2017

Time to act and help the environment! The Global Action Days is a campaign by the Foundation for Environmental Education's Learning about Forests programme that invites students and teachers to come up with innovative ideas that raise awareness, create positive change, help the environment and lead to a more sustainable future. These ideas are put into action on a chosen date each year, collectively known as Global Action Days.  Schools are invited to share their ideas for action and positive stories on our website and social media sites. 

Global Action Days are open to all! Schools and students both within and outside the FEE network are welcome to get involved. Join thousands of students around the globe and show that together we can make a difference!

Join us! 21 March, LEAF Global Action Day, to coincide with International Day of ForestsSchools are welcome to select another date to suit their needs. 

It’s all very simple! Plan your action, document the action by taking pictures, making a video or writing an article, register your school online and SHARE with the rest of the world on our Global Action Days Facebook page .

All the information on how to join this action can be found:

#LEAFGlobalActionDays #FEE #LEAF

Students Planting for the Future During Tree Week March 2017 in Ireland


Students from Carnane National School, Co. Limerick participating in An Taisce’s Learning about Forests (LEAF) programme celebrated Tree Week, Friday 10 March, at Coillte’s Curragh Chase Forest Park, Co. Limerick.

The LEAF programme explores forests as a whole and looks at topics such as biodiversity, water, climate change, products and community and actions students can undertake to help protect and enhance our forests. Rachel Geary, LEAF National Coordinator said ‘The team is thoroughly enjoying working with the schools, exploring how schools can engage with this exciting new programme in a meaningful and fun way’.

The programme also recognises the importance of tree planting and giving students the opportunity to sow seeds for the future.  An Taisce teamed up with the Tree Council of Ireland and Coillte to provide native saplings for Limerick schools participating on the LEAF programme and took part in a tree planting ceremony at the forest to celebrate Tree Week.

240 native saplings were distributed to 15 of the participating schools, in Co. Limerick, for planting in their schools grounds and the wider community during Tree Week. A further 60 saplings were planted in Coillte’s Curragh Chase Forest Park during Tree Week with three of the schools that visited the Curragh Chase for their Forest Based Workshops.  These interactive workshops aim to reconnect the students with their environment, educating them to be more conscious of protecting it and instilling in students a sense of ownership of the natural world that surrounds them.

Brendan Fitzsimons, CEO of the Tree Council of Ireland said ‘The Tree Council of Ireland are delighted to be associated with the LEAF programme. These LEAF students will remember planting a tree for National Tree Week every time they visit Coillte’s Curragh Chase Forest Park. Coillte have been donating trees for National Tree Week for many years, which is a tremendous help to the Tree Council of Ireland.’

This year the emphasis is on Coillte’s Curragh Chase Forest Park as a focal point for training and events in the region. The park, which is managed by Coillte, covers 313 hectares of mixed woodlands, park land and lakes which together provide a rich habitat for a diverse range of animals and plants.

Pat Neville, Coillte said ‘Coillte are very proud to be associated with An Taisce’s Learning about Forests programme and are delighted to offer our forest park in Curragh Chase as a venue for school children to learn more about forests and the natural environment in a wonderful outdoor setting’. 

From left; Kay Hartigan from The Tree Council of Ireland, Bernard Burke from Coillte, Rachel Geary, LEAF National Coordinator and Matt Kelleher from Mulkear Forestry.

From left; Kay Hartigan from The Tree Council of Ireland, Bernard Burke from Coillte, Rachel Geary, LEAF National Coordinator and Matt Kelleher from Mulkear Forestry.

LEAF Ireland would like to thank Coillte and the Tree Council of Ireland for their support. The LEAF Limerick project has been made possible with a grant from JS Greene Memorial Foundation.

Find out more about LEAF Ireland on their website.

More amazing pictures from Ireland can be found on Flickr.

Northern Ireland as 25th LEAF country

We are delighted to announce that Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA) will become affiliate member of Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and will run Learning about Forests (LEAF) programme in Northern Ireland.

LEAF now is present in 25 countries around the world!

NIFSA was set up as an independent charity organization in 2008. Since that NIFSA has worked with over 7.500 children and trained over 20 Forest School Leaders to a Level 3 standard. NIFSA has developed its own Forest School qualifications specially adapted for Northern Ireland. Forest Schools are an exciting and inspirational experience for children. They encourage them to work as a part of a team, explore all senses, develop communication skills and much more.

Welcome to the LEAF network!

LEAF Programme officially launched in USA

We are delighted to announce that LEAF's presence globally is still increasing with Foundation for Environmental Education's member organisation in United States, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), which will officially run the LEAF programme in USA. With NWF joined, USA is now 24th Learning About Forests country.

Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation is one of America’s oldest and most respected conservation education and advocacy organisations.

The NWF is a voice for wildlife, dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitat and inspiring the future generation of conservationists. The National Wildlife Federation has a number of programs designed to inspire kids to get outdoors, help wildlife, and become more aware of the nature in their neighborhood and community.

The National Wildlife Federation is a full member of the Foundation for Environmental Education and it is also running Eco-Schools and the YRE programmes of FEE in USA.

Welcome to the LEAF network!




PRESS RELEASE: FEE and General Motors sign a Partnership Agreement to run the Pilot Year of the Eco-Green Project



Barry McGonigal, International LEAF Director | E:
Karine Galstyan, International LEAF Assistant | E:


Copenhagen, 27 January - The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and General Motors (GM) have signed a Sponsorship Agreement to build together a strong Global Environmental Educational Project. The project, name is Eco-Green Project, which be launched in Brazil February 2017 and in three other countries throughout the world (Germany, Poland and Spain) in September 2017.

The project aims to engage LEAF member countries alongside GM facilities in a drive to improve sustainability in local communities. Together they develop goals and action plans that result in on-the-ground school and community actions for a sustainable future. 

The emphasis will be on General Motor’s sustainability topics and FEE’s environmental educational programmes, and will include topics such as water, biodiversity, forests, healthy living and eco-system services. During the Pilot Year, the project will focus on the theme, Forests and Water. 

Objectives of the project

  • Ensure students learn to enjoy the outdoors, experience and observe
  • Increase awareness about Forests and Water and ensure students are capable of making decisions on environmental issues
  • Develop young people as advocates for conservation & promotion of local environmental and biodiversity actions – ensure students take responsibility for their future
  • Develop a project that is easy to apply to all types of educational facilities
  • Promote critical thinking by ‘learn by doing’ study approach
  • Select science based resources to allow teachers to promote environmental education activities

Who can participate? Schools will be selected by the National Operator in each of the participating countries.

If you are representing a school from one of the participating countries, and your school is interested in joining project, please contact your National Operator directly. Contact details can be found on LEAF or Eco-Schools websites on the 'Contact' page.

More information about the project can be found on the Eco-Green Project website.


LEAF activities in Hyogo, Japan


3rd grade elementary school students took part in several LEAF activities in Hyogo, Japan. Students participated in tree-planting activities, and learned how to set up a net for preventing animal injury.

Afterwards, students participated in a “memory game”. They had to memorize leaves, seeds and other forest items that the instructor picked. Then they were given a task to find the same items from the forest. Most of students didn't know about Konara oak (Quercus serrata) which is popular in Japan. They found out that the acorn is a nut of the Konara oak through the activity.

Few days later, the instructor received several letters from students. They were writing, that they look very much forward to seeing the Konara oak grow bigger and they are happy to be able to recognize KONARA tree now. Which shows that students are now interested in the forests and trees through the LEAF activities.

Thank you FEE Japan for sharing this story.

LEAF activities at Malta’s famous Buskett woodland

120 indigenous trees were planted at Buskett, Malta. In an event organised by the National Stakeholders committee of the LIFE project- Saving Buskett on behalf of the PARKS Directorate, 120 students from 6 schools planted; carob, oak, olive, pine and bay laurel at Malta’s main woodland.

The trees planted will form part of a wider initiative of an international NGO - ENO - Environment Online which is present in more than 150 countries through a virtual network of educators. ENO has made a commitment at the UN RIO+20 Summit of planting 100 million trees by the end of this year and the campaign has been running for the past five years.

The students also had the opportunity to engage in various hands-on educational sessions led by experts on various aspects of the woodland including: forest fires; woodland lichens; tree identification; scavenger hunt; the countryside code; tree age, girth and height and also plant pest control.

One of the highlights of the event was definitely the short tour around this unique and beautiful woodland. The PARKS Directorate has embarked on a very ambitious LIFE project; Saving Buskett. The project is co-financed by the EU LIFE+ Funding Programme under the Nature and Biodiversity priority area. The project commenced in July 2013 and is expected to be completed by May 2018. Since the project is at an advanced stage, the students could admire the meticulous work done by the PARKs personnel in the careful removal of alien species the building of rubble walls and reforestation by planting of indigenous trees.

The event was organised with the support of; Nature Trust FEE Malta, BirdLife Malta, Plant Health Directorate, Maths Support Unit, Civil Protection Department, Argotti Botanic Gardens-UOM, Ms Jennifer Fiorentino.

Further info can be obtained from: 
Interested schools in Malta can book a visit to Buskett by contacting Mr Neville Ebejer on email to make the necessary arrangements.

LEAF Meeting with Teachers in Cyprus

A meeting focused on the Learning About Forests programme took place at  the EuroLife Office in Nicosia on 23 November 2016.

Most of the Teachers involved in the programme gathered from all over Cyprus and were welcomed by their hosts, EuroLife, and greeted by the Commissioner for the Environment and the Representatives of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The National Operator, Dr Michael Ierides, outlined the programme for the year 2016-2017 and presented the materials from the Forestry Department. 

As this year’s LEAF theme is Forest and Water, Mrs Maria Postekki from the Water development Department made a presentation and handed out informational materials for the current theme. Finally, a wonderful booklet of forest activities was distributed to the teachers, which was warmly welcomed!

A competition to create a collage from fallen leaves from a forest was announced, with a prize of an overnight stay in a forest for the whole class, titled “a night in the forest”.

On 28 November 2016 a Press Conference was organised to announce the support of EuroLife to Learning About Forests programme in Cyprus within its Corporate Social Responsibility policy.

LEAF Teacher Training Courses in Japan


At the request of local authorities, other organisations and forest related companies, FEE Japan organised several teacher training courses.

During the two day course, FEE Japan introduced the concept of LEAF and some activities related to the programme.

Participants also discovered different values of the forest and had an opportunity to be a LEAF instructor. Each participant facilitated a LEAF activity, while the rest of the group took part in it.

One of the participants introduced the “Look for colours of Autumn” game. It is most suitable for primary school children.

Firstly, children are asked to collect “Autumn colours” and sort them in umbrellas. At the end of the activity all the leaves are mixed in one umbrella and an “Autumn shower” is made! The activity allows children to discover the forest through it’s different colours and species.

These training courses were very successful and FEE Japan is planning to start implementing them yearly.

ENO Plant A Tree For Peace Day

The event took place on 21st September to coincide with the United Nations 'World Peace Day'. It is part of a global campaign which invites children all over the world to focus on environmental issues, fostering an appreciation of peace and increasing the awareness of school children about the importance of trees and forests on a global scale.

The planting of trees symbolise hope and the continuity of life. This year the LEAF network was extremely well-represented with 169 tree-planting activities taking place involving some 6672 students, teachers and community members. While the global figures have yet to be released, in total the LEAF network alone planted a staggering 2390 trees: congratulations to all involved!!

Find out more about the initiative here.

Europe Direct Victoria Gozo LEAF Awards 2016

Four schools in Gozo have successfully completed a LEAF project in accordance with the international standards demanded by FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) locally run by Nature Trust Malta. The best project is going to be awarded an aluminium greenhouse, sponsored by Bank of Valletta p.l.c. whilst the other schools are going to each be given gardening tools and others materials which will be sponsored by the Europe Direct – Victoria Gozo,  to support them in their efforts to increase love and awareness for endemic and indigenous trees and plants.

Read more about the winning schools and phenomenal work here!

LEAF Ireland officially launched


We are extremely happy to announce that Learning about Forests (LEAF) Ireland teamed up with the Tree Council of Ireland Thursday 6 October, Tetra Pak Tree Day to officially launch the International LEAF programme.

The Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce has officially launched the LEAF programme to 30 schools in County Limerick. Through interactive learning and field trips the programme reconnects the next generation with their environment, educating them to be more conscious of protecting it and instilling in students a sense of ownership of the natural world that surrounds them. There will be emphases on using Curragh Chase Forest Park as a focal point for training and events in the region. The park, which is managed by Coillte, covers 313 hectares of mixed woodlands, park land and lakes which together provide a rich habitat for a diverse range of animals and plants.

Read the Press Release.
Read more about LEAF Ireland on their Facebook page.
More great photos can be found on LEAF Ireland's Flickr page.



Always learning in Latvia

This year the "Mother Nature Teachers' (Mammadaba) Camp" took place from 27th to 29th July. 50 of the most active teachers took part in the even organised within the framework of the LVM environmental education programme "Learning about Forests". They participated in 36-hours of continuing education courses held in nature to acquire new skills, knowledge and ideas for their classes.

Sirpa Kärkkäinen, a representative of the Finnish Forest Association and member of the LEAF Steering Committee, was on hand to share her expertise about the Finnish experience with the education reform and gradual implementation of a new education programme. Among other things the teachers were tasked with preparing a plan for a class called "Wood is Everywhere!" which resulted in games, study cards or rebuses. Read more about this story here!

“Dream in the Wave” teacher Summer School, Skiathos, Greece

Though there might have been a slight language barrier, nothing could obscure the enthusiasm and dedication of those in attendance at the Skiathos Summer School. Presentation after impassioned presentation left Learning about Forests Director Barry McGonigal in no doubt as to the commitment of this incredible group of teachers and educators assembled on the beautiful island in the Aegean. The setting for these presentations was the fittingly impressive “Bourtzi” Cultural Centre close to where the ‘old’ and ‘new’ ports meet. Surrounded by pine trees and with breath-taking views of the harbour and the sea, this former bastion and school was the perfect place to hear about the wonderful work the schools participating in the LEAF programme were undertaking. Examples of best practice abounded and all attendees were impressed by ingenious resources such as the LEAF backpack, LEAF activity guide and the Treasure Hunt game.

Activities in the field included the xperiential field study workshops in the Koukounaries wetland and teaching training workshops at the Skiathos High School. Cultural trips such as visiting the Monastery of the Annunciation and silvered sand of Koukounaries beach made for delightful outings and gave some context to the wonderful backdrop of the island.

Thirty teachers from all across Greece participated in the Summer School with the sole aim of furthering their ability to foster a greater connection between young people and their forested environment. Teachers with years of experience in environmental education were on hand to extol the virtues of this approach: everyone had something to offer and all participants came away with fresh knowledge and new ideas. Throughout the activities, the core elements of the Learning about Forests programme shone through and it was clear that the programme was being implemented to its fullest.


This was only the second year of such a Summer School and it was organised by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature in association with the Ministry of Education and Primary Education B Athens and members of the Hellenic Coordinating Committee of the LEAF Programme. Thanks to the kind efforts of the Cultural Association of Skiathos and the sponsorship of the AG Leventis Foundation, the entire undertaking was an unparalleled success. In addition, a special thanks must go to the following for their hard work, hospitality and patience:  Mr. Nikos Petrou, President of HSPN,
MMrs. Alexia Nikiforaki, HSPN Deputy General Secretaryr. Theodoros Tzoumas, President of the Skiathos Cultural Society, Mrs. Katerina Mpazigou, representative from the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Mrs. Sofia Perdikari, Mrs. Sofia Kainourgiou, Mrs. Varvara Petridou, Mrs.Christina Theodora and Mrs. Stefania Dritsa.

Congratulations LEAF Greece on a fantastic Summer School and all the best for next year!