Who we are

Learning about forests - An TaisceThe programme was initiated in 1999 by the Forest in Schools programmes in Norway, Sweden and Finland in cooperation with the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and rolled out in the spring of 2000. Today, the Learning about Forests programme is coordinated by FEE at an international level. The Learning about Forests programme is well-recognised internationally, with over twenty countries from around the world participating. The programme aligns itself with Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), the Global Action Programme (GAP) and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce runs the LEAF programme nationally. 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. Coillte’s Curragh Chase Forest Park in County Limerick will be used as a fantastic natural resource and focal point for off-site training and events in the South-West region. The park, which is managed by Coillte, covers 313 hectares of mixed woodlands, park land and lakes, providing a rich habitat for a diverse range of animals and plants.

The LEAF Limerick project has been made possible with a grant from JS Greene Memorial Foundation.

FEE Logo

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation aiming to promote sustainable development through education. The Foundation for Environmental Education is mainly active through its five environmental education programmes:

Blue Flag

Eco-Schools (nationally known as Green-Schools)

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE)

Learning about Forests (LEAF)

Green Key

An Taisce

An Taisce works to preserve and protect Ireland’s natural and built heritage. An Taisce is an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues.

Our work is focused in three areas:

Education: Our Environmental Education Unit is responsible for some of Ireland’s most popular and successful environmental programmes, including Green-Schools, Green-CampusClean Coasts, National Spring Clean, Neat Streets, Green Communities, Learning about Forests and the Blue Flag award.

Advocacy: The Advocacy Unit is dedicated to promoting the conservation of Ireland’s nature and biodiversity as well as its built heritage.

Properties: An Taisce own a range of heritage properties in trust, including historic buildings and nature reserves.

What’s more

The Learning about Forests (LEAF) programme is designed for schools and encourages environmental education through awareness raising among students, teachers and the wider community. The programme looks at all the functions of forests, ecological, social, economical and cultural.

The overall aims of the programme are to see an increased level of awareness and knowledge about the key role forests play for sustainable life on our planet and to stimulate activities that will help students achieve an increased level of environmental maturity irrespective of age and previous knowledge.

  • Contact with the natural world has significant health benefits (reduced ADD, reduced anxiety, enhances self-control and self-discipline).
  • Contact with the natural world increase children’s’ ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities and has the capacity to improve academic performance.
  • The programme is directly linked to many of the Curriculum Strands.
  • The programme helps develop students’ decision-making skills and builds students’ confidence and sense of citizenship through participation.
  • It offers a well-defined, measurable model for the delivery of national and international policy and objectives for education and awareness about forests.
  • Ensure students learn to enjoy the outdoors. Encourage positive experiences outdoors and develop a positive attitude toward the environment and our forests.
  • Ensure students experience and observe nature.  Help students gain a general curiosity about nature and human interaction with forests.
  • Ensure students understand the ecological web. It is important to understand the ecology of forests. This knowledge leads to a better understanding of nature’s processes.
  • Ensure students understand the interplay of man and nature. The programme reflects all the functions forests fulfil for people: cultural, ecological, economic and social. Understanding the balance between these is crucial when understanding the potential conflict of interests that exist between different stakeholders.
  • Ensure students are capable of making decisions on environmental issues. By understanding the interplay between forests and humans we can identify where conflicts of interest may arise. Questioning skills are crucial to collect knowledge and reliable information. Based on education and knowledge, students can make well-informed decisions.
  • Ensure students help take responsibility for their future. Every individual is responsible for their own actions. The LEAF programme and the structured approach to education and awareness of forests has the potential to create a highly educated, informed and skilled population translating into many associated environmental, economic and societal benefits through better understanding of forests and related disciplines.
Essential elements:

  • Registration – schools must first register with the Learning about Forests Office before commencing.
  • Implementation of the Learning about Forests programme – schools implement the programme over the course of the school year. The programme is a life-long learning programme. Once awarded, schools progress onto new LEAF Themes and continue the cycle each year.
  • Report – schools submit a simple report at the end of each school year, outlining their activities and any increases in levels of knowledge about forests.
  • Award – successful schools will be certified at the end of each school year for their positive efforts.

Contact us

  • LEAF Ireland

    Environmental Education Unit,
    Unit 5a Swift’s Alley, Francis Street
    Dublin 8