Second Nature - Environmental Studies Pack (5-14), SNH & RSPB - available from the RSPB
- To understand that many areas of native woodland in Scotland will disappear if they are not managed properly.
- To appreciate that managing a native woodland for profitability as a timber resource can be compatible with managing them for wildlife.
- To develop a sense of stewardship for Scottish native woodlands
You will need
- Wise Woods information sheet (see downloads)
- Values and Visions information sheet (see downloads)
Did you know?
Many of today's nature reserves were managed in the past for their timber value. It was often the value of the forest products, such as timber, bark and charcoal that lead to the forest being sustainably managed and why they survive as a nature reserve today. Other less-valued woodlands were left to be over-grazed by sheep and deer and gradually dwindled into rough pasture with scattered veteran trees.
Before the activity
Discuss the care of native woods with the class. There are two main current threats to native woodlands in Scotland.
- Overgrazing by deer and sheep
- Invasion by non-native species - particularly Rhododendron.
Some grazing is good for woodlands, as it creates a greater diversity of habitats by breaking up single age stands of trees, creating open glades or giving a competitive edge to less palatable trees that set seed less easily than others. Rhododendrons are beautiful shrubs introduced from the Himalayas. They were widely planted in gardens and grounds of large country houses, but some species spread vigorously into adjacent native woodlands. They are dense shrubs and prevent any light reaching the forest floor, drastically altering the woodland structure, out-competing native plants and are of little food value to native animals.
Give the class copies of the Wise Woods information sheet. Ask them to cut out the sheet into the 12 boxes, discuss in small groups and arrange them into two columns: one headed 'wise management of woods' the other 'poor management of woods'
Visit an area of native woodland that is being managed as a community wood / nature reserve / sustainable source of local timber. Ideally get a guided tour from the woodland manager. The class will be able to see, first hand, the management being carried out. They may see:
- management to enhance its value for wildlife e.g. coppicing and thinning to create more open areas providing a more diverse structure and more diverse groups of woodland plants
- fencing and planting of young trees to ensure the future survival of the woodland.
- marking fences to prevent bird strikes, particularly by capercaillie and black grouse.
- management to enhance the recreation and education value of the woodland, which enhances its value to the local community.
- sustainable timber extraction, perhaps felling in small coups or removal of some of the larger trees only, to maintain the overall woodland structure.
- removal of non-native species
- quad bike tracks - to help with deer culling targets
After they have spent some time in the woodland (spoken to the woodland manager and perhaps carried out some games or other short activities) ask them to think about the value of native woodlands to them. Encourage them to sit quietly by themselves in a chosen, comfortable spot, for five minutes and to jot down 3-6 reasons why they value the woodland. Then give their reasons an order of importance.
Suggested Follow up
Back in the classroom, give each child a copy of the Value and Visions sheet. They can cut out the boxes and arrange them in a diamond shape to show the order of importance that they attach to each statement. The most important reason for protecting native woodlands should be at the top and the least important at the bottom. They can refer to the notes they made whilst sitting in the woodland and add in any statements that they feel are missing from the selection. This ranking exercise should help them appreciate that native woodlands are valued for many different reasons e.g. ecological, economical, historical, aesthetical and emotional (well-being). When they have finished they can compare their rankings with a neighbour. It is important for them to understand that there is no right and wrong answer - what makes a woodland an important place and worth protecting is often entirely personal. For many people it is the sights, smells, and sounds or simply the peaceful atmosphere. This activity can help them develop informed attitudes and take into account the values of others. Find out if there were any general conclusions that could be reached - can they agree on a class ranking or were the rankings quite diverse?
Ask the children to design a poster that promotes the importance of native woodland in Scotland, display the posters in the local hall, library or community centre.
Excellent information on tree uses, folklore and biology of native Scottish
Trees for Life -
Mythology and Folklore
- Science - main
- Social studies - main
- Health & well-being - main