Environmental education (EE) and forest-related environmental education in urban areas takes place under different conditions than in rural areas. Urban natures and forests are rather complex socio-ecological systems that are shaped and structured by various human activities and vice versa influence human urban lifestyles. These systems include urban forests but also forest-like wooded or non-wooded areas like parks, urban gardens or single trees as well as urban “wilderness” or “industrial forests” that develop on inoperative industrial areas or wastelands.

Environmental education in these settings aims at creating experiences that can provide insight or ‘aha’ moments for the participants and brings them closer to their “natural” urban environment and to take environmental responsibility. At least since the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development from 2005–2014, Environmental education has been associated with education for sustainable development (ESD). As for bot (EE and ESD) there is no ‘correct’ pedagogy, ESD does not necessarily bring a methodological shift in environmental education but rather broadens its perspective on capacity building, communication and creating public awareness as key strategies for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For both there is a broad consensus that it requires a shift towards active, participative, and experiential learning methods that engage the learner and make a real difference to their understanding, thinking and ability to act.

Therefore in this panel we will not so much focus on theoretical debates but exchange experiences of practical approaches, try to identify best practice examples of EE/ESD in urban green areas and develop concepts for practical implementation.

This session will be organised in the Environmental Education Centre Gut Leidenhausen, where every year more than 5000 children are made aware of the importance of nature and forests.