Forestry Commission logo

Forest Diary

Education: At the heart of protecting the New Forest

By Sarah Wood, Learning Manager (

The forest is a fascinating classroom without walls. It provides a playground that’s carpeted in leaves, an art class with the most varied colour palette you’ve ever seen and it is the home to a diverse collection of plants and wildlife that would make any science laboratory proud. In short, it’s the perfect backdrop to inspire a desire to learn more about trees and forests.

A large part of our job is about looking after the Public Forest Estate – including the wildlife that call it home and the people who visit it every day. But we also need to help people understand the importance of our woods and forests; educating them about how together we can protect the forest for the future.

I joined the Forestry Commission and its Learning team in August and so far I’ve been busy getting up to speed on the various activities that take place in our visitor centres, events programmes, cafes, play areas and on our trails for cyclists and walkers. I’ve previously worked for the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, so my outdoor learning background has been really helpful as I’ve been getting to grips with all the activities the Forestry Commission has created for its forest visitors.

We think it’s really important that we give people a variety of different educational materials to use while they’re exploring the New Forest. From downloadable activities, such as tick lists of things to spot, to free curriculum-linked lesson plans for teachers or youth groups, we’ve created lots of fun and educational things to do that can help you discover more about our forests during self-led, interactive learning trails.

My favourite activity is ‘forest challenges for autumn’ - which can be downloaded from our website at You can challenge your friends and family in a number of fun activities, including bark rubbings, building a den to keep warm in the chilly autumn air and making the biggest pile of leaves – before kicking them into the air! Blackwater Arboretum and the Tall Trees Trail are ideal locations for this challenge, which can be found next to Blackwater car park. Once you’ve done them all, you can email us your results and receive a certificate as a ‘well done’ for completing our autumn challenge. If you like the sound of that, come and give it a go – and keep an eye out for our winter challenge which will be coming along later this year!

We also run a number of ranger led activities and events throughout the year, including a programme of guided walks. Don’t miss the New Forest Walking Festival, which runs until December and gives visitors the chance to discover more about the New Forest along a number of themed walks. One of our favourites is the six mile ‘Autumn Amble’ at Eyeworth Pond on Saturday 24 October, where you can savour the colours, sights and sounds of the forest during this beautiful time of year. Booking is essential for the Walking Festival, so please visit our website for more details.

There is always something new to see and learn about our forests, which continue to change as the seasons and years roll by, making it a fascinating outdoor classroom to explore. By learning more about our beautiful forest, we can all help to protect it for many years to come.

Join the annual celebration of responsible forestry

By Richard Daponte, North Walk Ranger – New Forest (

In previous Forest Diaries, we’ve talked a lot aWalkers on a woodland trailbout the benefits that our local woodlands offer – from places for recreation and relaxation to important wildlife habitats and valuable timber sources. But did you know that there is a global movement to celebrate responsible forestry?

FSC is a global, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide and this Friday (25 September) will see people from across the world join an international celebration of the world’s forests and raise awareness of the importance of sustainable forestry: FSC Friday, the Forest Stewardship Council day.

If you’re as passionate about forests and woodlands as we are, there are many ways you can get involved by becoming a more responsible consumer of wood products, and help to protect our forests and the wildlife that live within them.

When you next buy paper (perhaps to re-stock the printer at home, for example) and other forest-sourced products look for the FSC certification, which is your assurance that they have been responsibly sourced from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials.

Similarly, Grown in Britain is a fantastic initiative that supports the UK timber trade. It’s designed to help promote British-grown timber and encourage a better understanding of sustainable woodland management.

The best way to support British woodlands and the species that live within them is by taking the opportunity to buy Grown in Britain products. Your choice will have a direct impact on the creation, as well as the management of woodlands and even our wetlands. Keep an eye out for the Grown in Britain logo when you’re next buying wood or other natural materials, as this provides reassurance that the timber has been sourced from a site that’s been managed in accordance with the Government’s responsible Timber Procurement Policies.

Did you know that forestry contributes more than £4.1bn to the UK economy, and employs around 39,000 people in the forestry and primary wood processing sectors? The impact and size of the forestry industry makes it even more important to generate awareness of the importance of protecting our trees, and make more informed choices about the forest products you buy.

So next time you’re buying wood, paper or other timber products, think about where it’s come from and ask yourself if it has been sourced from a sustainable forest. You could help make a real difference.

BOX OUT: As part of FSC Friday and helping to spread the message about sustainable forestry, we’ve created a free, fun self-guided family trail for visitors to enjoy at Blackwater Arboretum’s ‘Wood is Good’ event, which is suitable for the whole family (including canine companions). Follow the trail to learn more about why wood is such a fantastic natural material. Discover how it can be used for so many things, why it’s much more sustainable than other materials and how it helps to clean our air. Join the ‘Wood is Good’ family trail between 10:30am-3pm on Friday 25 September; simply walk up to the arboretum from Blackwater car park on the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and begin exploring. Booking isn’t required and visitors are advised to wear suitable walking shoes and clothing, so you can enjoy a day out in the middle of the New Forest.

For more information on the New Forest, visit

For more information on Grown in Britain, visit

Last updated: 10/02/2015