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.

Dirk Schmechel


Keynote 1
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
  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

Workshop 1
: Meeting with creation in the forest
Speaker: Dirk Schmechel; Bavarian State Forest Institute, Head of section Knowledge-transfer and Forestpedagogy, Member of Steering-group in FCN-Subgroup-Forestpedagogy

Workshop 2
Title: Images and objects - a teaching method which emphasizes active learning and critical thinking
Speaker: Anna Lena Albertsen, Forestry Extension Institute, Norway

Workshop 3
: Elements of music therapy in Forestpedagogy
Speaker(s): Miroslav Randuška, music therapist, Drumbla-Community centre, Slovakia

Workshop 4
Title: A new way to experience a nature trail with children
Speaker: Juha Ruuska, development manager, Finnish 4H Federation, Helena Herttuainen, regional director Southern Finland, Finnish 4H Federation, Maria Isolahti, regional director, Northern Ostrobotnia-Kainuu, Finnish 4H Federation

Workshop 5
Title: Tree of knowledge and forest inspiration – learning about trees by means of using natural materials and playing a Forest theatre  
Speaker: Igor Viszlai, Eva Vavreková, State Forest Enterprise of the Slovak Republic

Workshop 6
Title: Increasing the level of awareness & knowledge about the key role forests play for sustainable a future
Speaker: Rachel Boyle, International LEAF Director and Elena Perikleous LEAF Cyprus with Anda Sprogere, Inga Petersone (JSC Latvija)

Workshop 7
: Telling Stories and Jumping About – Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland presents 2 fun and interesting resources
Speaker: Bonnie Maggio, Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland Manager, Forestry Commission Scotland.

Workshop 8
Title: Simple things – Experiential education from the backpack – metaphorical activities in the forest
Speaker: Georg Sprung, State forest Rhineland-Palatinate, Environmental Education and ESD,
Bettina Förster-Baldenius, Forest School Zehlendorf, Berlin, Jugend in Berliner Wäldern (JIBW) e. V.

Workshop 9
Title: The Best Forest Owner- game for several participants
Speaker: Gabriela Pavlonova, Forest Manager, Forest Management Institute Brandys nad Labem, Czech Republic

Workshop 10
Title: Discovering birds by means of all senses, simulation and imitation of animal sounds  
Speaker:  Igor Stavný, State Forest Enterprise of the High Tatras National Park, Alojz Kašák – Media Production related to forest and forestry


A: Visiting of wooden flume for the transport of wood in Harmanec; historical forestry railway; Forestry open-air museum in Cierny Balog, Forestpedagogy activities in action.

B: Trip to the historical mining and forestry town of Banská Štiavnica (inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list together with its surroundings), visiting the first Forestry Academy in the world, a primary school with forestry and falconry educational program.