Welcome to Learning about Forests (LEAF)

Using nature as a classroom

What is LEAF?

LEAF is a learning programme that advocates outdoor learning and hands-on experiences, resulting in pupils gaining a deeper and more involved understanding of the natural world. 

The key aims of the LEAF programme are to:

  • Reconnect children and young people with natural environments
  • Promote and expand outdoor education
  • Improve knowledge of forest-based ecosystems

No Forest Needed!

While the focus of the LEAF programme is on tree-based ecosystems, the skills and knowledge can be acquired and applied in any natural environment. Our definition of forest is wide and can include marine forests and urban ecosystems. Anyone can take part in LEAF, no matter where they live. 

Interested in taking part? Complete our registration form to sign up. LEAF is an annual programme following the school year. You need to register by the beginning of October to take part in this year’s programme. If you register after this time you will be added to the waiting list for next year’s programme.

Like Eco-Schools, LEAF is one of five programmes operated internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful in Scotland.  Find out more about LEAF worldwide by visiting the LEAF international website.

The LEAF Award

The LEAF award demonstrates a commitment to outdoor and nature based education, as well as knowledge and understanding of the crucial roles of forest based ecosystems. 

Our introductory video for pupils and educators explains further.


The Forest Cycle

Completion of all elements of the Forest Cycle qualifies you for a LEAF Award. Visit our How to Guide for details of how to complete the programme.

The Forest Cycle is similar to the Eco Schools seven elements, but this is a smaller award, requiring fewer actions. As such it can be counted towards an Eco Schools Green Flag application, or as a standalone project for schools who want to work towards something a bit smaller.  

Why take part?

Unique opportunity to support the Learning for Sustainability Action Plan 2023-2030 in a new format that can be integrated into day-to-day teaching.

Improved mental wellbeing and academic outcomes for pupils.

Improved confidence for teachers in outdoor learning.

No charge to take part - fully funded by the Scottish Government.

Open to all age ranges, from early years to secondary.

Can be counted towards an Eco-Schools Green Flag Award.

Climate Action Schools Year Planner

Keep track of your LEAF work and our offering of lessons and training with our new Climate Action Schools planner. Printable on A3 to write on.  Download a copy here.

How could LEAF work in your setting?

Some ideas for how you could integrate LEAF into your setting can be found below. Please note this is by no means an exhaustive list. LEAF is designed to be flexible to suit your individual setting requirements. If you have any queries about how to integrate LEAF into your setting, please contact us at leaf@keepscotlandbeautiful.org.

View our Tree of Learning curricular maps to help you link your LEAF activities to the curriculum: Early Level, First Level, Second Level, Third Level, Fourth Level


  • Integrating nature based activities into indoor and outdoor learning time to help children connect to the natural world using all their senses.
  • Spending more time outdoors with children, exploring the world around them.
  • Taking part in activities to help children understand how nature works and how to protect it.

Primary schools

  • LEAF could be run as a class topic, with activities taking place outdoors where pupils can connect with nature, learn how it works and how to protect it.
  • LEAF could be run as a whole school project with an emphasis on taking current learning outdoors and using this time to connect with nature.
  • LEAF activities could be split between classes, with activities relevant to each class taking place throughout the year.

Secondary schools

  • LEAF could be integrated into a timetabled class in any subject, with existing learning slanted towards the natural world and more time spent outdoors.
  • LEAF could be taken on by an Eco-group in your school, who would organise activities centred around the LEAF aims.
  • LEAF could be integrated into the school ethos, with activities based around connection to, and understanding of, nature.

ASN schools / departments

  • Using LEAF as a basis for multisensory learning via indoor and outdoor nature based activities to help pupils connect to the natural world using all their senses.
  • Utilising natural environments as a classroom to enhance learning, communication and confidence.
  • Using LEAF activities to help pupils understand the natural world and how to protect it.  
Get in touch with:
Nicola Davidson
Education and Learning Officer


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