In 2012, the foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung established the "Bremen Children's Forest": with the active support of numerous children, volunteers and cooperation partners, a grassy area has evolved over the years into a multifaceted landscape of small ecological niches with forest and fruit trees, hedges, watercourses, hills and dry slopes that provide habitats for numerous animal and plant species. Popular with young and old, the children's forest area is the ideal environment for families to spend leisure time in nature.
The site of 2 ha was kindly provided by the foundation Hans-Wendt-Stiftung, which is responsible for a children's and youth farm next door. Our foundation carried out all creative activities together with children and regularly offered environmental education for school classes and free groups. Planting native trees and shrubs was of course the first priority, but the children also eagerly devoted themselves to building a willow tunnel and a herbal spiral, to name a few examples. This commitment stimulated their curiosity and led to a strong bond with the unstoppably developing flora and fauna on the site. In our numerous events, we were able to convey topics relating to trees and herbs, insects and birds, climate and food and much more in a particularly vivid way.
Since 2012, a total of around 3,400 children and young people have attended our approximately 600 environmental education events and helped to establish the Children's Forest.
The Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung has now said goodbye to its children's forest project.
In almost ten years, the reforestation and environmental education project has become so well established that we were able to trustfully hand it over to the owner, the Hans-Wendt-Stiftung. In some places, forest-like structures have grown with trees that are now up to 8 metres high, and there are numerous wild flowers and herbs that attract many insects. The sound of birds and the rustling of leaves significantly enrich the formerly sparse grasslands acoustically as well.
The project has also established itself socially: it has become a popular destination for families from the near and far surroundings, and schools appreciate the children's forest as a concrete nature experience and have made it an integral part of their lessons.
Since the end of October, the Hans-Wendt-Stiftung has been taking care of this little nature paradise. We hope that many more children will visit to watch their planted trees grow and to enjoy the area for discovering, experiencing and playing.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to all those involved who have built up and accompanied this beautiful project with us!
The project site covers about 2 hectares and is located near the River Wümme, a right tributary of the River Weser. The land has been provided by our project partner Hans-Wendt-Stiftung which offers many educational activities in different districts of Bremen. Children and socially disadvantaged teenagers of the neighbourhood are visiting the farm regularly and receive educational help. They can experience adequate animal keeping, learn how to cook and participate in creative activities.
The interactive programme was aimed at young people between the ages of 6 and 18. With this project we gave children from socially disadvantaged families the opportunity of experiencing nature, as such experiences are not very much encouraged and supported in their environment and the children otherwise hardly come into contact with the idea of nature conservation.
The reforestation has been carried out successively since 2013. The aim of the project is to ensure that the children accompany and care for the trees over longer periods of time, and each school integrates this into its teaching curriculum to a different degree.
Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung regularly organised environmental education activitites on topics such as animals in the forest, native trees, tree care and much more with school classes involved in the project. During the school holidays, we also offered children the opportunity to discover nature, play and let loose with us.
"There is hardly a more intense experience in nature than planting a tree yourself and accompanying its growth. This strengthens the personality of the child and can be formative for the further development", explained Rainer Köpsell, former forestry director of the Nds. Landesforsten and forest pedagogue, who advises the Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung in the advisory board.
Information leaflet [in German]
Aims of the project
The Children's Forest Project pursues goals of international importance.
1. Environmental education in the sense of ESD (education for sustainable development) in the following areas:
- Sensitising children, young people, teachers and locals to the value of the forest as a habitat and the problem of climate change.
- Recognition of natural relationships, knowledge of species, etc.
- Nature experiences close to the city
- Creativity in the realisation of your own ideas
- Practical handicraft activities (e.g. construction of pasture tunnels, signposts)
- Promotion of the community spirit
- Strengthening the self-confidence of the children by assuming responsibility for their own tree, involving them in planning processes and passing on their knowledge.
2. Recreational function for the population
3. Climate protection / CO2 binding
4. Improvement of the water balance
5. Improving the microclimate and the quality of life
6. Example of near-natural afforestation (planting in mixture with local species)