Save the Date – The IFSA annual gathering and AGM will take place in Tanagh Outdoor Adventure Centre, Co Cavan on Sat 28 and Sun 29 May 2022. Our theme is Flourishing in the Woods. We are delighted to collaborate with NIFSA, the Northern Ireland Forest School Association for this in-person event, our first national gathering since May 2019.
IFSA are delighted to open bookings for our 2nd Spring Webinar series, following on from great interest last year. We hope that these webinars will be of benefit for members, forest school trainees and others as we remerge from our winter rest into the springtime. Re-inspire and re-connect with your Forest School community in this series of evening webinars where we will explore themes of Knifework, storytelling, nature craft and Wildlife Tracking
Each webinar will take place on a Monday evening from 7pm-8pm. We hope you will be able to join us!
- Monday Feb 7th Whittling in Forest School with Ross Wareham
- Monday Feb 21st Weaving story, song and movement into your Forest School practice with Niamh Geoghegan and Aaran Towers.
- Monday March 7th Keeping track: The art of wildlife tracking – with Lucy O’Hagan
The workshops are free of charge to current IFSA members, and we also welcome non-members at a cost of €15.
IFSA is always open to new members, and returning friends too! If you would like to renew your membership early for the year 2022/23, or join IFSA for the first time you can do so by following this link: IFSA Membership
We are greatful to all our members in their support of our work to fulfill our mission:
- To bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful, learning for all, in nature.
- To build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing.
- To continue to make links with other organisations who share our vision for a better and more sustainable world where humans can live more harmoniously with each other and with nature.
Webinars will take place on a Monday evening from 7pm-8pm. We hope you will be able to join us!
Please follow this link to book: https://irishforestschoolassociation.clr.events/event/131980:ifsa-spring-webinar-series-2022
The Irish Forest School Association are delighted to announce the launch of our regional networks. These regional networks form our Autumn Gathering for 2020 – ‘Nurturing Connections in New Directions’.
We want to build local networks of forest school practitioners to share ideas, to deepen our practice and to help make FS available more widely across Ireland. IFSA feels this is a core part of our work as a national organisation to ensure the quality of FS practice here.
On the weekend of 17/18 October 2020 there will be five gatherings, either on Saturday 17th or on Sunday 18th of October, in different parts of the country:
- Dublin: Bushy Park, D6W; hosted by Ruairi Shelley & Ross Wareham (Sat 17th)
- Northwest: Clevaragh Forest, Co. Sligo; hosted by Tricia Mc Loughlin (Sat 17th)
- North: Glasswater Wood, Co. Down; hosted by Amy Dixon (Sat 17th)
- West: Lees Road, Ennis, Co. Clare; hosted by Grainne Vaughan & Veronica McGuire (Sun 18th)
- South: Killeagh, Co. Cork; hosted by Niamh Geoghegan (Sun 18th)
Each Gathering will be hosted by regional forest school practitioners, find out more about our hosts here.
This event is designed as a skill-share type of sharing of best practice and ideas with each other.
Booking are now open: There is no cost to current IFSA members who have priority booking until 5th Oct after which it will be opened to non-members at a cost of €10.
Each event will be strictly limited to a maximum of 15 persons and will comply with all Covid-19 regulations. Participants will provide their own food and drinks and, as always, wear warm and waterproof clothing.
The event is subject to Government Covid-19 guidelines.
Notice of Annual General Meeting
The 2020 AGM of the Irish Forest School Association takes place on Thursday 27th August at 7pm, via Zoom.
- Minutes of 2019 AGM
- Chairperson’s report – including Membership and Social Media update
- Financial report
- Ratification of ACORN until May 2021
- Back in the Woods – a short discussion on how it feels to return to practice
- Announcement of Autumn Gathering 2020
Members must register in advance.
Dear member and friend,
Greetings from the IFSA ACORN. We hope that you and your families are well and safe at the moment. We extend our sympathies to any of you that have experienced bereavement over the past while.
We are conscious that for many Forest School practitioners, the continued closure of schools and services has meant that you are unable to earn a living at the busiest time of year for many of you. For the moment, we are experiencing a pandemic that has kept us physically distanced, and while connecting virtually is a lifeline for many of us, we need connection to nature now more than ever.
The exact outcome for recommencing Forest School sessions is unclear still. We imagine it will be in line with the reopening of crèches and early years services which is proposed to commence on 20th July. See here for the most up to date details. We will update members as more information becomes available.
What we do know is that being outdoors in nature is a plus and being in small groups is a plus and Forest School fits the bill on both scores. We know Forest School fosters resilience and provides opportunities for dealing with uncertainty and for creativity. We know the long-term nature of Forest School fits well with the kind of response we need to put in place in our education and care settings going forward. We know that Forest School leaders are well used to assessing risk – many are already use tippy taps for handwashing, for example. We know being outdoors in nature is very healing, whether that is Forest School or other nature-based activity. We know that Forest School is about fun and spontaneity and we certainly need lots of that right now. When we are allowed to be in-tune with the changing elements, to get muddy and wet, get curious about insects and wildlife, discover and explore our connection with nature and with human nature, meet new challenges and integrate experiences, we are improving our resilience, mental and physical health and feelings of joy and well-being.
Our Response Together As we move towards re-opening, we offer some advice and opportunities to stay connected and share your creative responses to this unique challenge.
In preparation for opening up again, we are advising people to think about ways that your Forest School setting can meet the public health requirements. Communicating well with parents how potential risk is controlled, as well as ensuring Forest School leaders and staff are protected is essential. Think about how you can manage regular handwashing, social distancing, provision of food and drinks, management of tools and equipment. Talk to your insurance provider. Check out whether your usual site is open and make contact with the owners. It may also be a good time to contact local schools and early years settings to offer your services as a Forest School leader, outlining the benefit of Forest Schools as they open up again. This link to an article about Scottish outdoor preschools may be helpful.
We know that one positive outcome from this crisis will be more consideration of nature- based activities such as Forest School in our schools and childcare settings. We will be writing to the government and to relevant public bodies to promote Forest School as one important part of education provision going forward. We encourage you to get in touch with your local representatives as well. We will circulate a sample letter for you to adapt shortly.
The IFSA ACORN
IFSA encourages our members to respond to Coillte’s Forest Five Year Plans. It is your opportunity to engage with the ‘custodians of 7% of Ireland’s land’. The consultation period runs until Friday 1st May 2020.
See Coillte’s statement below:
Coillte’s current BAU Strategic plans (forest five year plans) are due for review at the end of 2020.
With your help, Coillte will produce draft forest plans for the period 2021 – 2025 in the coming months. During this time we invite stakeholders to engage with us and submit their recommendations into this consultation process.
There will be 4 stages in this public consultation process as outlined below :
|Phase||How it works||Timeline|
|Phase 1||6 week public consultation when initial submissions are received||March-May 2020|
|Phase 2||Coillte review and acknowledge all submissions received during Phase 1||May 2020|
|Phase 3||Draft plans formulated and published. 6 week public consultation when feedback and further submissions are received||June-July 2020|
|Phase 4||Coillte review all stakeholder submissions to draft plan and produce final plan||August-September 2020|
We are inviting you to review our current plans which are available on our website (link – current plans) and submit your views and recommendations during Phase 1. This public consultation period runs from Monday 23rd March 2020 until Friday 1st May 2020 (6 weeks). Submissions may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to :-
Ms Sharon Byrne, Coillte, First Floor, Block B, Marlinstown Office Park, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Please visit the Current Consultation (link) section of Coillte’s website to find out more about this consultation process.
Our 2019 Autumn Gathering will be held in Dublin on Saturday 19th October in DCU…more news soon