SEOUL, April 19 (Korea Bizwire) – A new initiative from the Seoul Metropolitan Government will see each district in the city equipped with a ‘forest kindergarten’ outdoor space over the next few years, places where children living in urban areas can have a rare opportunity to experience nature.
According to a new plan revealed by the Seoul Municipal Government yesterday, more than 400 forests in the city offering outdoor education programs will be opened by 2023.
Since the Korea Forest Service first introduced a forest school in the country in 2008, other local governments followed suit, including Seoul, which began its own forest school project in 2011.
Seoul’s plan to provide children with more opportunities to be in contact with nature through forest schools is modeled after forest kindergartens in Europe, where children aged between three and six are encouraged play and explore in natural environments, which is thought to boost confidence and independence from an early age.
As of now, around 40 forest schools are operating within Seoul, including Ujang Park in Gangseo District and Eungbong Park in Yongsan District, with more than 500,000 children having visited since the summer of 2012.
One official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government said, “Most parents and kindergarten teachers share the opinion that there is lack of opportunity for children to experience nature in Seoul.
“The new measure is reflective of that voice, which will see more small-sized forests for children sprout up near mountains, streams and parks all around the city.”
The 325 newly-planned forests will be smaller than 5,000 square meters in size, while 34 larger-scale forests are expected to be at least twice as big.
Up to six organizations per day will be able to use forest schools until 4 p.m., after which the outdoor spaces will hold psychological healing programs for elementary school students, teachers and parents.
Choi Gwang-bin, an official responsible for Seoul’s environmental projects, says the new forest schools will be more nature-orientated than those currently in place, which rely more on facilities, to more closely model the original concept of forest schools that began in Northern Europe.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)