Trees for Life Forest Discovery Weeks provide a chance for people to understand and connect to the natural world in a meaningful way. They are an opportunity for anyone with an interest in nature to immerse themselves in the wild Highlands and learn the skills such as tracking, foraging and identification. Learning these nature awareness skills helps us to see the wild world in a new way and can enrich our lives wherever we may live.
During the course of this fun and eye-opening week participants will have time to really immerse themselves in nature as well as sharing the company of other nature enthusiasts!
There will also be free time so that you can relax, wander, explore and cultivate your own connection to nature at your own pace.
A naturalist is someone who pays close attention to, and has a keen interest in, the natural world. You don’t need to be an expert to be a naturalist, you just need to have the curiosity to learn, discover and connect to the natural world.
This one week course is based at our Dundreggan estate. All meals, training and accommodation is included. For more information on the accommodation click here.
Tracking is an ancient skill that helps us to gain a deeper insight into the lives of wildlife. You will learn a range of tracking skills including how to identify and interpret tracks, feedings signs, bones, feathers and more. Tracking brings out the Sherlock Holmes in you and is great fun!
Dundreggan is a biodiversity hotspot and we will cover ways to identify a variety of plants and animals from recognising bird song to identifying trees - sometimes with your eyes closed! These are skills that you can use wherever you happen to live. Identification skills include tree, bird and plant ID.
Reading bird calls and behaviour is an aid to spotting predators and other wildlife, and can teach us much else besides! Bird language is another age-old skill that is closely related to tracking. By interpreting the different types of bird call and behaviour we can build a picture of what’s going on around us. It is even possible to locate owls and other predators purely by listening to other birds!
Humans have relied on plants for countless millennia. Discover how to recognise wild foods and to gather them in a safe and sustainable way. We will also look at other plants and fungi that have been used to make fire, string and more.
There is a wide range of wildlife in the area including red squirrels, pine martens, ospreys and more. While sightings obviously can’t be guaranteed there will be a chance to visit the pine marten hide and to look for other wildlife. You will also learn wildlife spotting tips and techniques.
Engaging our senses is an essential part of being a naturalist. We will explore ways to do this that help us to relax and become fully alert and present in our surroundings.
There are many proven benefits that come with connecting to nature both to physical and mental wellbeing. You will get to try out some tried and tested ways of feeling more at home in the natural world and rewild yourself!
Dan Puplett has had a passion for the natural world from an early age. He went on to volunteer for a range of conservation projects and did his BSc (Hons) in Environmental Studies including a year’s ranger placement with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. Dan later completed his MSc in Environmental Forestry, while doing other conservation and environmental education work.
He has worked for Trees for Life for over 11 years, where he has led over 80 Conservation Weeks in the Highlands, conducting surveys and training other conservation guides.
For over thirty years Dan has studied a variety of naturalist and wilderness skills. He has a certificate (98% score) in Wildlife Track and Sign from Tracker Certification (a rigorous, internationally recognised tracking assessment) and the NCFE Level 3 Advanced Bushcraft Award.
He is extensively involved in environmental education with people of all ages, including home education groups as well as with disadvantaged youth and vulnerable adults.
Solving mysteries in the wild
Developing a deeper sense of place
Nature awareness - observation and deduction skills
Group mapping activities
Developing curiosity as a naturalist tool
Free time to relax and explore
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