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Virtual forestry to inspire young students

The UK’s Forestry Commission is working with Google Expeditions to take schoolchildren on virtual tours of working forests. The Commission is using the immersive platform to inform the next generation about sustainable timber production, the importance of plant health and how woodlands are designed to create habitats for wildlife. Source: Timberbiz

The free Expeditions were made using a 360-degree camera and can be viewed on mobile devices and tablets.

Pupils visit a tree nursery to find out which species could make up forests of the future. They explore machines used in forestry, study woodland habitats and wildlife, and learn about the importance of trees in the face of the climate emergency.

Students also hear from people working in the forest about a range of possible careers. They include forest planners, ecologists, arborists, tree health officers and machine operators.

The 360-degree panoramas and 3D images are controlled by a tablet, which the teacher can use to point out interesting sights along the way.

“We want to inspire the next generation about our work and the variety of career opportunities in the forest,” Sarah Wood, Learning Manager at Forestry England said.

“These new tools will also help to inform how forestry has huge benefits for both people and wildlife. It is too often assumed that felling trees in any way is damaging for nature, which is simply untrue.

“As well as providing a renewable resource and jobs in our communities, sustainable forest management provides wildlife with the diverse habitats it needs to thrive.”

Across the UK, approximately 16 thousand people work in forestry and 27 thousand in primary wood processing, which includes sawmilling, panels, pulp and paper.

Forests also help to provide thousands of jobs in other industries including leisure and tourism.

Google Expeditions are used by over a million students around the world, enabling teachers to take students on virtual trips to museums, historical landmarks and outer space.

“Expeditions is a powerful learning tool. It provides a unique opportunity for supplemental learning by giving students new ways of exploring the concepts and places they are studying,” Jen Holland, Program Manager, Google Expeditions, said.

“We’ve been thrilled to see teachers use Expeditions to bring abstract concepts to life and provide students with a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom, infusing learning with excitement and fun.” The first two Forestry Commission Expeditions are called Working with trees in England’s forests and Timber production in England’s forests. More Expeditions will be added this year.