The vision of Scotland’s Young People’s Forest (SYPF) – a project developed in partnership with YouthLink Scotland, Young Scot, the Woodland Trust, and Green Action Trust – is to create the first forest in Scotland that will be governed, led, and co-designed by young people. The mission of its Youth Leadership panel, a group of young people aged 11-26 from across Scotland, is to create and regenerate native Scottish forests, which are accessible to all and utilised as an educational resource while combating the climate and nature emergencies.
SYPF participants are currently working with the RSPB at its Baron’s Haugh reserve to learn forestry management and governance techniques, with a long-term view to entering into a governance model and partnership agreement with land owners so they can meaningfully shape and lead the management of additional Forest locations alongside land owners across Scotland – but without needing to have legal responsibility for it. The Forests won’t necessarily be permanent locations but it is planned that the governance agreement with the land owners, likely to be local authorities or NGOs, would be reviewed on an annual basis in case the project or group of young people could no longer engage with the land.
The project and the Forest will be vital in building the capacity of the youth work sector, supporting them to engage their own youth groups in green skills, outdoor learning, and climate social action. The team behind the SYPF has developed a toolkit for the youth work sector to build this awareness and confidence. The project will also inspire and equip youth groups to collaborate in partnership with land owners in their own communities to ensure that young people feel empowered through their engagement with woodlands and forests.
The Youth Leadership Panel co-designed the below ambitions for the project:
- Land Use: To manage, regenerate and rewild various areas of land as forest sanctuaries
- Health and Wellbeing: To create outdoor spaces for people to reconnect with nature: places to enjoy for their own health and wellbeing or to share with others
- Native Wildlife: To manage and restore native wildlife to help educate and reconnect people with native species
- Equality and Accessibility: To create welcoming forested places that are inviting and accessible for everyone
- Culture and Innovation: To create inspiring natural spaces for people to explore the connectedness of natural and cultural heritage through arts and technology both ancient and modern.
- Young People: To enable and empower other young people to take action on issues of climate change and environmental concern.