On the 3rd March 2022, World Wildlife Day and World Book Day, Ireland’s foremost wildlife expert Éanna Ní Lamhna presented copies of her book Wild Things at School to the principals of two schools in Tallaght. Out of print for a number of years, this wonderful teaching aid has been reprinted as part of the Stepping Stone Forests schools program with the support of AWS InCommunities and Google and in association with Dodder Action. Stepping Stone forests are small urban woodlands of native Irish trees and shrubs that are planted on areas of grassland in public spaces and in school grounds. Volunteers from Dodder Action, Tallaght Litter Mugs, Woodstown Village Wildlife and EY, and pupils of Rockbrook Park school, and forest sponsor Henkel, helped the children of both schools to plant almost 1,000 native Irish trees and shrubs.
Éanna presented copies of Wild Things at School to Principal Martin Morris (Sacred Heart JNS) and Principal Gerry Diver (Sacred Heart SNS) as part of the Stepping Stone Forests schools program. Éanna Ní Lamhna said “Stepping Stone Forests provide an important opportunity for children to become familiar with woodlands on a regular basis, while learning academic and practical skills. It is great to see Wild Things at School forming part of this educational project.”
The two Stepping Stone Forests planted were the fourth and fifth in a schools program that began at Old Bawn Community School on February 11th with a further two planted in St Mary’s SNS and Coláiste Bríde, both in Clondalkin. These planting efforts bring the total of trees planted to date in Stepping Stone Forests in schools to more than 2,500.
Caragh Coote of Dodder Action said “We are delighted to be a part of this wonderful initiative. It is a joy to see the children so excited and involved in the creation of these forests of the future. The children planting these Stepping Stone Forests are leaving a lasting natural legacy for the generations of children that will attend these schools in the decades to come.”
School Stepping Stone Forests are planted in a horseshoe shape that creates an outdoor learning space, a forest classroom. The founder of Stepping Stone Forests, John Kiberd said “The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of our outdoor spaces. These protected woodland classrooms are perfect for children to learn about nature. It is just fantastic that the children of Sacred Heart primary schools will be learning about Ireland’s natural world fromÉanna Ní Lamhna’s wonderful wildlife book in their very own Stepping Stone Forest classroom.”
Pics: John Stanton