Launch of the new ‘Forest School Association’

Saturday 7th July 2012 saw the launch of a new national body for those working in UK Forest School settings – the ‘Forest School Association.’ The launch event was seen as a milestone in the growth of Forest School in the UK with almost 200 participants braving the elements to undertake workshops and networking sessions, which all took place outside. The event saw the first Directors elected, a group of whom will function as Officers to the body and aim to represent the variety of those involved with Forest School. The association will be a voice for Forest School, support practice, ensure quality training and push forward on research.

(Information taken from


The new association will take time to develop and more information will be available on the IOL website in coming weeks, see:


Hidden rift valley discovered beneath West Antarctica reveals new insight into accelerating ice loss

Scientists have discovered a one mile deep rift valley hidden beneath the ice in West Antarctica, which they believe is contributing to ice loss from this part of the continent.

Experts from the University of Aberdeen and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) made the discovery below Ferrigno Ice Stream, a region visited only once previously, over fifty years ago, in 1961, and one that is remote even by Antarctic standards.

Their findings, reported in Nature this week reveal that the ice-filled ancient rift basin is connected to the warming ocean which impacts upon contemporary ice flow and loss.


To read the entire press release visit

Empty Classroom Day – Taking Learning Outdoors!

Friday 6th July 2012 marks the Empty Classroom Day, a day where pupils will head outside to learn, and we would like you to join us! This exciting initiative seeks to uniquely tackle recent concerns, from both the National Trust and Natural England, that children are suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ and that there is an ‘extinction of experience’ when engaging with the natural environment.

The Empty Classroom Day is happening right across the UK, but was created by a collection of organisations who met at the London Sustainable Schools Forum (LSSF), all supporting learning outside the classroom, school grounds and growing. The day was developed to help schools benefit from outdoor learning and share their best practice with other schools.

Schools are signing up to support outdoor learning and to show that one class will be learning outside for one lesson on Friday 6th July. Pupils will be:

  • Doing their maths lesson in the playground
  • Making art on city farms
  • Doing bug hunts at nature reserves
  • Running races for school sports days
  • Bird watching in their playgrounds
  • Writing stories in the local park
  • Following maps in Zoos
  • Weeding in the school vegetable patch.

What are the benefits?

Learning outside the classroom can be fun, memorable and healthy. Everyone benefits from learning outside:

  • Young people will get the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways – in particular these can benefit those who find classroom learning difficult
  • Teachers will be able to broaden and deepen their teaching skills and subject knowledge while working with more motivated pupils
  • The school can use these new approaches to raise achievement
  • The wider community can benefit through involvement in, for example, developing school gardens of all kinds, leading to a wider understanding of issues such as healthy eating, sustainability and caring for the environment.

How does my school join?

Schools can sign up to the event by following this link:

For those schools that have signed up there are special offers for visits, tours, treasure hunts and lots of activity packs with ideas for what your class can do in your school playground.

We hope you and your school can join us on this fantastic initiative and that we can take learning outdoors together!

– By Sarah Simmons, NAEE Member

Earth Hour Reflections

I celebrated Earth Hour for the first time at the RIBI assembly dinner on 31st March: the lights were switched off and hundreds of candles illuminated the area. This was my first experience to a beautifully simple idea that has become a massive global phenomenon, which has successfully united an extraordinary number of people across the globe. This simple symbiotic act carries a huge environmental message.

Hundreds of millions take time to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday in March as they are driven by the thought of positive action to help tackle climate change and protect the natural world from the impacts of our ever consuming lifestyles. This is fantastic and inspiring and NAEE encourages people to go beyond just the hour and extend energy saving that can make such a difference into their daily lives.

The way we live has impacts that we can not always determine or haven’t yet experienced: these can range from weather changes such as droughts and flooding to food shortages, loss of species and deforestation. So, Earth Hour is not just about saving electricity, it is much greater than that. It is about realising that the actions we take; to the energy we use; the food we eat and the water we drink – all have an effect on our planet.

We all depend on our amazing world and need to care and look after it, not just for an hour, but for every single day of the year.

The analysis after tracking the total electricity demand during the day and comparing it with the corresponding profile of previous Saturdays in the UK showed that there was indeed a significant reduction in the mid evening peak when people often switch lights on. Overall, this translated to a massive saving of around 2,850 tonnes of CO2, an impressive figure

WWF reported that hundreds of millions of people in a record 150 countries and 6,434 towns and cities across the world took part to show they care about our brilliant planet. In the UK, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Clifton Suspension Bridge, HMS Victory, Edinburgh Castle, Parliament Building in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Assembly were just a few of the landmarks that took part.

Communities across the country also ran local events and thousands took part making this year’s Earth Hour the biggest yet, with an estimated 20,000 visitors per minute on its youtube channel and by the time the switch off had reached South Asia, Earth Hour was trending on twitter.

Gabrielle Back, CoChair, NAEE.

Raise money for your school through textile recycling

Raise money for your school through textile recycling. Free ‘Phil’ the Bag sacks are provided to the children to take home and fill with their unwanted items of clothing and shoes. The children bring in their bags on yopur Recycle Day, the bags are then weighed and a certificate and cheque are sent to your school.

Bag2School is a free fundraising scheme based on textile recycling. They operate throughout the UK and raise money for schools and charities by collecting and reselling unwanted second hand clothes. They work in partnership with schools, business, community groups, local councils and charities.

“21 Jump Street” Is Right: Environmentalists Are Now the Cool Kids in High School!

Johnny Depp left the show after season four an...

Johnny Depp left the show after season four and is used on the fifth season DVD cover. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Children and Nature 

In the new movie 21 Jump Street, two young cops named Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are sent back to high school as undercover police officers. The pair are shocked to find that in the few years they’ve been away, the social strata have been seismically restructured: Biking to school, recycling and otherwise showing concern for the environment makes you a Cool Kid.

To find out whether this depiction of the new cool is accurate, Pop Omnivore spoke with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Juan Martinez. As a national spokesman for the importance of getting youth—especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds—into the outdoors, he visits a lot of high schools. And he himself is a former cool kid turned environmentalist: “I love nature like I love my ‘hood.”

Has there been a change in the way teenagers think about environmentalism?

Oh, absolutely. The way I got involved, it was an ultimatum. When I was in high school at Dorsey High [in South Central L.A.] back in 1999 I got put in detention and they gave me a choice: Stay in detention for the rest of the year or else you go to this thing called Eco Club.

Eco Club was where the dorks, the geeks, and the nerds hung out. I didn’t want to associate myself with those kids. I was a football player. I was trying to be this [gangsta] kid that lived in the ghetto.

I didn’t talk to anybody in that club for almost the full semester. I just went in there and did my work. I had these little jalapeño plants that I grew—that’s the reason I kept going back. And that eventually turned out to be the catalyst that changed my life through the opportunities the club offered me including helping me win a scholarship to attend the Teton Science Schools in Wyoming.

For the last few years I have been working with the Eco Clubs at both Dorsey and [nearby] Crenshaw High School. We’ve created these programs with the Sierra Club and are taking students out on trips, on hikes.

Gradually between 2007 and 2010 the Eco Club became the largest club at Crenshaw. We had kids walking around with Sierra Club backpacks. Everyone wanted to be a part of the Eco Club. One time we had to take three buses because 150 kids wanted to go on a camping trip.

Yeah, it’s changed.

What do you think is the reason for this shift?

I think it’s due to the attitude of this generation, and to technology and how that opens up new information gateways. Not knowing something is no longer acceptable. Everybody is on Facebook, Twitter, on blogs. Social media has changed what this generation talks about.

There’s this whole attitude that “I can do this.” “That I am empowered to make positive change” is something that our generation really feels.

Are you seeing this change reflected in the community?

Some of the young are considering careers and employment in places that they wouldn’t have before, like with the National Park Service, with the Department of the Interior. People are becoming empowered to discuss the issues that matter to them and to their community. That’s some of the strongest change that we’ve seen.

Our councilwoman’s office here in South Central now has a solar panel, and the farmers’ market is happening right now. These were not things that were happening around here five or ten years ago. And last Monday out at Carson High School (in South L.A.) they had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a windmill that they just raised and started to operate.

So some of the changes are exciting. It’s still a challenge. You’re not going to get everybody, but it’s starting to become more of a way of life rather than an alternative way of thinking. Environmentalism and conservationism was always associated with this thing that hippies did, and you had to wear Birkenstocks and have a tie-dyed shirt or something and celebrate Earth Day. But the reality is that if you want to survive in today’s economy—if you want to be part of the global community—you have to be a part of this movement. -Rhett Register