Students at Scoil an Mhathair De, Limerick City, kick-started their involvement in the LEAF programme with a full day of activities facilitated by LEAF Education Officer, Ray Foley. The school is focusing on the LEAF Theme – Forests and Biodiversity. The school has been busy working on attaining its Green Flag for Biodiversity, so the opportunity to engage with LEAF was most welcome by the school.

Their day started with a short introduction to native Irish trees. Ray had brought in samples of wood including, Ash, Oak and some pine. Afterwards, the students learned about three of the lesser known Irish species, Alder, Hazel and Willow. Ray talked them through the biodiversity that these species host as well as their preferred habitat types. They discussed their traditional and contemporary uses such as, clay and wattle style construction and wicker baskets. The students had an opportunity in the afternoon to practise their own willow weaving skills on a frame which was supplied.

The afternoon ended with a challenge. Students had to find Alder seeds in the cones Ray had brought along. The students passed with flying colours, with some finding as many as 20 seeds per cone. Detailed instructions on how to germinate and grow the seeds into young trees will be sent to the school.

The students learned a lot about the different trees in Ireland and were left with an exciting Grow your Own Tree Project. The school is already looking forward to their Forest Based Workshop at Coillte’s Curragh Chase Forest Park in the New Year!