by Sonja Mewes
The Fridays for Future movement has received not only a lot of attention but also support in our University Town of Freiburg in the south of Germany. This led the Montessori School ANGELL in Freiburg – where I am teaching – to reflect on how to channel this energy of the students to engage and work on concrete projects related to climate change and environment.
In this context, the Montessori Zentrum ANGELL decided to launch an initiative called ‘The Green Campus Day’ on November 15th, 2019. Our teachers suggested a range of projects in the area of climate change, biodiversity, waste reduction and upcycling. We selected all these projects on the basis that our students would learn about their contributions to reduce their carbon footprint, their impact on biodiversity and waste reduction. It was up to the students to select a project of their choice. The age of the students in our group ranged from 12 to 18 years.
The project I offered together with my colleague Miriam Götz and in collaboration with Andreas Schuck and Alexander Held from EFI was to explore the role of forests as a carbon sink and home of a wide range of species. The Marteloscope “Mooswald” is located in the City Forest of Freiburg and provided an optimal outdoor classroom and learning lab for the students. They were able to study and discuss about the role of forests in providing a multitude of important ecosystem services. We decided to put the focus of the day on the role of forests as carbon sinks. They actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, for instance in the process of carbon sequestration. Andreas and Alexander also introduced the role and importance of forest as habitat for many species. In particular, we looked at tree microhabitat structures which serve a large variation of species, including insects, fungi, mammals and birds as homes or food sources. The challenge was to put this ecological role into the context of our need to harvest trees as an environmentally friendly and renewable resource used for many products in our daily lives.
The students went away with new insights and different perspectives on the functional services a forest and in particular, trees deliver. Andreas and Alex emphasized especially the importance of forests for providing us with the renewable resource wood, for ensuring jobs and livelihoods and serving people as place to recreate . We learned that biodiversity and its role in forest biotopes is extremely important to guarantee that our forests stay healthy and resilient now and in future.
In order to bridge between nature and modern technology the students were encouraged to work with hand held tablets and the “Tree Microhabitat App” to assess the ecological value of trees and put those in relation to economic figures. They surely enjoyed this visit to the outdoor classroom a lot, as they not only gained insights into scientific research but also simulated the work of a forest manager.
More information on the ‘Green Campus Day’ here. You might also want to check out the short movie the school produced to highlight their activities towards a sustainable future:
Pictures by @Sonja Mewes.