Scotland's Young People's Forest

The vision is to create the first forest in Scotland that is co-designed, led and governed by young people.


One of the Scotland's Young People's Forest prototypes illustrating what the future site might look like

The mission of the Scotland’s Young People’s Forest (SYPF) Youth Leadership panel, a group of young people aged 11 – 26 from across Scotland, is to create and regenerate native Scottish forests, which are accessible to all, and can be utilised as an educational resource while combatting the climate and nature emergencies.

We are currently working with RSPB Scotland at it’s Baron’s Haugh nature reserve to engage the Youth Leadership Panel and local young people in forestry management techniques. You can watch this video to find out more about what they’ve been up to. The long term view is for more young people to lead, manage and shape the direction of additional forested spaces in their local communities, alongside land owners across Scotland and inspire a SYPF movement.

The project and the forest sites will be vital in building the capacity of the youth work sector, supporting them to engage their own youth groups in green skills, outdoor learning, and climate social action. The project will also inspire and equip youth groups to collaborate in partnership with land owners in their own communities to ensure that young people feel empowered through their engagement with woodlands and forests.

The Youth Leadership Panel co-designed the below ambitions for the project: 

  1. Land Use: To manage, regenerate and rewild various areas of land as forest sanctuaries
  2. Health and Wellbeing: To create outdoor spaces for people to reconnect with nature: places to enjoy for their own health and wellbeing or to share with others  
  3. Native Wildlife: To manage and restore native wildlife to help educate and reconnect people with native species
  4. Equality and Accessibility: To create welcoming forested places that are inviting and accessible for everyone 
  5. Culture and Innovation: To create inspiring natural spaces for people to explore the connectedness of natural and cultural heritage through arts and technology both ancient and modern.  
  6. Young People: To enable and empower other young people to take action on issues of climate change and environmental concern. 

The project is supported by YouthLink Scotland, Young Scot, the Woodland Trust, and Green Action Trust, alongside founding partners Corra Foundation, NatureScot, Pears Foundation, Scottish Enterprise, Accenture and Wood.


What have we achieved so far?

Online and in person meetings and residentials: The Panel meet regularly for online sessions to discuss ideas and make key decisions about the project. They have also taken part in residentials engaging directly in and with nature to visualise different uses of land which they might want to consider in the development of the forest whilst receiving expert advice to inform them.


COP26: The Panel promoted the project in Glasgow during COP26, inspiring further youth-led conservation projects and highlighting the importance of climate initiatives while experiencing the buzz of the conference.


BBC Documentary: Members of the Panel took part in interviews at RSPB Baron’s Haugh Nature Reserve in Motherwell to share their thoughts and reflections ahead of COP27. Read the blog and catch up with the full documentary on iPlayer.


Youth Climate Leaders in Stockholm: Members of the Panel were invited to Stockholm to meet with fellow young leaders in the climate space to collaborate in youth to youth capacity building. Read Josie’s blog.


Site Visits: The Panel have considered and visited various potential sites across Scotland to identify a suitable location for the forest. They are continuing to work towards confirming a location in central belt Scotland and discussing partnership agreements with land owners.

A Scotland's Young People's Forest prototype cartoon illustration detailing a woodland

"Setting out to do something you’re not sure you’re cut out for, within a supportive team where everyone brings different skills, provided with the resources you need, and managing to do what you set out to is what empowerment feels like. It’s what we need to happen across the world, in every sphere of society at every scale. It was amazing to be part of that process, and I felt extremely privileged to have been given the chance."

Josie, Youth Leadership Panel member

Programme Activity

The Youth Leadership Panel
The Youth Leadership Panel are a group of young people from all over Scotland aged between 11 and 26. Put a face and name to the project and find out why some of the volunteers wanted to be a part of this exciting project.
Youth worker with long blond hair and a beard teaches young people how to build a sustainable bug hotel
The Expert Advisory Group
The Expert Advisory Group is a panel of experts from across the Forestry and Environmental sector who are here to support and advise the young people on the panel with any questions or problems they may encounter.
Toolkit for the Youth Work Sector
This toolkit builds youth workers' capacity and awareness around green skills and climate education for young people through training, resources and guidance. It provides inspiration, activities and lesson plans you can use to engage with your youth groups.
A young person planting a tree sapling at night time
Training for the Youth Work Sector
YouthLink Scotland have delivered training for the youth work sector on themes linked to the Scotland's Young People's Forest objectives, from green employability to climate justice and creative outdoor learning. Head to the resource library to catch up and watch these prerecorded webinars.
Four young people pose for a photo with a hedgehog house in the woods on a sunny day
RSPB Baron's Haugh Partnership
Scotland's Young People's Forest are working in partnership with the RSPB on their Baron's Haugh Nature Reserve in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. This will better equip the Youth Leadership Panel with the necessary skills to govern and maintain future SYPF sites and inspire other young people to engage with their own woodland spaces.
Scotland's Young People's Forest member cutting a tree
Young People's Forest Blueprint
This Blueprint was co-design by the Youth Leadership Panel with support from Young Scot, to set out the ethos, vision, ambitions and decision making tools they hope organisations will work in line with to create their own forested spaces with young people across Scotland.
Young people pose for a photo in front of a shipping container with a bird painted on it in a nature reserve
National Consultation Report
This consultation aimed to understand how other young people in Scotland felt about the Scotland’s Young People’s Forest project and to gather their opinions on some of the major decisions the project needs to make.
Three members of Scotland's Young People's Forest collect their finalist certificate at the Scottish Charity Awards.
SCVO Scottish Charity Award Finalists
Scotland’s Young People’s Forest was recognised for its contribution to raising environmental awareness after being selected as a 'Climate Conscious' finalist in the Scottish Charity Awards 2023.
Two young people receive an award on stage, either side of two award hosts.
Holyrood Climate Action Award Winners
The project won the Youth Champion category at the 2023 Holyrood Climate Action Awards ceremony, hosted by Holyrood Magazine. The awards and ceilidh were held at the George Hotel in Edinburgh, attended by YouthLink Scotland, Young Scot and two young people from the Youth Leadership Panel.
Young people are standing in a field overlooking a woodland
Impact Report
This impact reports covers the activity delivered in the 'Forest Conception Phase' (February 2021 – April 2022).

“We’re excited that young people are really at the heart of this forest; not only is the project bringing people closer to nature, it is sending a message that the natural world is important to young people, that there is a want to protect it and enjoy it for generations to come. It gives hope.”

RSPB Scotland, partners of Scotland's Young People's Forest

How can I get involved?

Are you a funder who can join us in making Scotland’s Young People's Forest a reality? Or do you have a skill, experience, area of expertise and can volunteer some time to support the young people? We would love to hear more, so please get in touch with the team.