A two-year project in Kerry aims to get people of all ages out into the forests to observe, enjoy and participate.
It is one of 15 initiatives being undertaken countrywide to highlight the multifunctional benefits of forestry, promote the planting of more trees and encourage sustainable forest management.
The projects were chosen from 40 proposals received by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and will now be implemented with almost €830,000 in overall funding in 2019 and 2020.
Each individual project will be run by a pool of tutors including environmental educators, ecologists, horticulturalists and early-year educators.
Minister of State Andrew Doyle, who launched the Kerry Earth Education Project in Lyreacrompane Community Forest, said the aim is to enable people to feel connected to forests, locally and nationally.
Get outdoors this weekend - Coillte's forests contribute to the mental health agenda by providing natural restorative spaces. Visit our website to find recreation spots in your local area: https://t.co/8WsuLZs2A8 #Coillte #Localforests pic.twitter.com/ipuyeQWvXP— Coillte (@coilltenews) June 22, 2019
The experience will hopefully enhance their feelings of wellbeing and their knowledge of the essential place of forests in our lives. He said the benefits of forestry include employment, income generation, biodiversity and climate change sequestration.
But a visit to a forest to actually appreciate the sights within it is a learning experience in itself, he said.
Mr Doyle said ‘Forest Connections’ encourages various age groups to visit forests and to see, first-hand, and enjoy the environment with its many features.
Activities in the Kerry project will include a forest summer camp, a junior after-school Forest Club, mini-forest camps, family days out in the forest, wild food foraging and plant Identification.