Forests as classrooms – Hands-on learning guides help young people build a sustainable future


To encourage young people to manage the planet wisely, we have to give them the means to become agents of change. FAO’s Discovering forests teaching and learning guides are part of an FAO initiative to inspire and engage young people, in this case 10-13 year-olds, and tie in with the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests, namely forests and education.

These modules examine forests’ role in the water cycle, reveal their presence in the medicines, foods and objects of daily life, and challenge received wisdom about ownership and management. Perspectives – and curricular entry points – range from geographic to scientific to social, and call on analytical, decision-making, research and interpersonal skills. The modules are part of FAO’s flagship “The State of the World” collection, and content draws upon FAO’s major biennial report on The State of the World’s Forests.

The learning approach is hands-on and encourages young people to develop their own questions and paths for discovering the answers. The teachers’ guide is practical and flexible, designed by teachers for teachers. And while most of the learning is intended to take place outdoors, the learning guide provides a beautifully illustrated workbook to complement the outdoor activities.

The guides, produced in English, French and Spanish, and forthcoming in Chinese and Mongolian, received funding from the European Union’s StarTree project for the module on non-wood forest products. To participate and help us improve the modules, to propose a translation/adaptation in another language or to share ideas for new modules, please contact
[email protected].

For more titles on forests and education:

Forests challenge badge

The Youth Guide to Forests