Who is eligible to apply?
Any city, village, town or school district that has legal
control of forested property.
School Forests have
incredible educational value. They are used to:
• Meet state education and national core standards – Education
programs at school forests help to meet diverse state mandated education
standards including science, language arts, math, social studies, environmental
education, art, and agriculture education.
• Integrate environmental education into the curriculum – Research
has shown that using the environment as a theme across subject areas increases
standardized test scores, improves attendance, and decreases behavior problems.
A school forest should be an extension of the classroom that is used to enhance
learning through hands-on, experiential approaches that can’t be accomplished
in the school.
• Strengthen school and community relationships – Partnerships
with community members, resources, and businesses can be formed at the school
forest by utilizing the knowledge and experience of local companies and
potentially supplying these companies with products. The school forest can also
serve as a community resource by hosting education evens and providing a
recreation site for the public.
• Provide income – Forest products, non-timber forest products,
and rental of facilities can generate income for the school. Ideally these
funds would be invested in the school forest to maintain and support the
• Connect teachers and students to place – School forests can help
re-localize education and connect students to their natural and human
communities. A sense of place is essential in creating relevancy in education
as well as assuring that we strive to live well in our place.
• Demonstrate sustainable natural resource management – School
Forests serve as the context for understanding how management decisions and
their life-style choices are related. The forest provides opportunities for
students to become involved in resource management planning, implementing, and
utilization of forest products.
What are the benefits of
being a registered school forest?
Upon registration, the school or municipality is
- for free trees and seed from the state forest nurseries
- for technical assistance for DNR foresters for carrying
out tree planting and forest management plans
- to apply for Wisconsin Environmental Education Board
(WEEB) school forest grants
- to receive assistance from the Wisconsin School Forest
1. Property must be owned or under legal control (e.g., lease,
easement) of a municipality or school district. Land use agreements with
municipalities, leases from private land owners, and conservation easements are
examples of ways schools can legally register a parcel of land as a school
forest. Example of Land Use Agreement
2. The school board and governing body of the municipality must
adopt a resolution to dedicate a parcel as a school or community forest.
3. Wisconsin statues do not establish a minimum acreage or
productivity requirement. However, the property should contain at least one
acre of forest.
4. The municipality or school district should indicate intent to
actively manage the forest.
5. School districts should indicate intent to provide sustainable
forestry education as a component of their programs.
6. A management plan or property description must be completed and
approved. (Conditional acceptance can be granted prior to completion of a
management plan based on forester recommendations.
1. Owner (or an authorized property
representative) completes and application form, attaches minutes of meeting
dedicating property as school or community forest, and submits it to the local
DNR forester. (If this is not school owned land, a copy of the land-use
agreement and municipality's governing board’s meeting minutes must also be
included.) Download the Registration Form
2. DNR forester visits site to ensure property
meets criteria. Find the DNR forester who services your county.
3. DNR forest completes recommendation section
of the application.
4. DNR Forester sends application and the
meeting minutes referenced in 1. (above) to Wisconsin School Forest Education
Specialist (LEAF, 800 Reserve Street – Room 110 TNR, Stevens Point, WI 54481).
5. If land does not meet criteria, forester
sends letter of explanation to the property representative and to the Wisconsin
School Forest Education Specialist indicating why it may not be registered.
6. School Forest Education Specialist can conditionally
approve acceptance based on forester recommendation with only the application
form and meeting minutes.
7. To gain final approval, a forest management
plan must be completed and approved within one year of acceptance. Typically, a
DNR forester creates the management plan; however, any individual, group, or
organization can be involved in developing the plan. If a DNR forester does not
develop the plan, it must be submitted to a DNR forester for review. Contact
your local DNR forester for assistance. Link