The Cumberland Forest Education and Outreach Project was funded by the Comox Valley Community Foundation and Village of Cumberland with the goal of addressing human impacts in the Cumberland Community Forest and orienting users, particularly education and childcare programs to the Cumberland Community Forest Park and Park Policy in support of the Park’s health, sustainability, and resilience. These impacts have been exasperated by COVID, local population increases, and the increased interest in outdoor education activities on the part of local schools, private nature programs and pre school programs
Planning / Coordination
- Development of an inventory of all education and program providers that utilize the Cumberland Community Forest and Coal Creek Historic Park
- Coordination with the Village of Cumberland to align data collection and policy / management recommendation objectives.
- Collaboration with Village of Cumberland in the development of a digital survey for education program related Park users
- Collation of existing Park use and permitting documents from the Village of Cumberland
- Collation of third-party forest use guidance documents from school /pre-schools/ programs
- Collation of baseline and covenant documents from CCFS that define land use parameters
- Outreach to Cumberland Community School leadership (admin and teachers) to introduce the project objectives and invite engagement
- Delivery of survey of local K-9 educators, program leaders, pre schools and nature programs in the Spring of 2022.
- Direct engagement with the SEY2K group (strengthening early years to kindergarten group of educators and ECE / childcare folks in Cumberland)
- Site visit with Hand in Hand Nature Education program facilitators to look specifically at Coal Creek Historic Park impacts.
- Ongoing collection of feedback (through surveys and direct engagement) on policy recommendations for future park use policy / permitting.
- Development of a framework to work with teachers and students and to explore human impacts and community stewardship of the Cumberland Forest.
- Outreach to local K-9 educators, program leaders, pre schools and nature programs to offer CCFS educator to join for a forest walk. Field engagement with fourteen classes and programs (so far) totaling over four hundred teachers / program leaders and students in the Fall of 2022.
- High interest from educators in continuing this engagement program in the spring of 2023 and each fall and spring going forward.
- Request from educators to develop formal professional development proposal for all CCS teachers
- Collection of feedback (through surveys and direct engagement) on policy recommendations for future park use policy / permitting.
- Collation of feedback on recommended updates to the CCFS Teacher Resource.
Resources Development / Updates
- Development of a draft park use policy recommendations for the Village of Cumberland
- Development of draft recommendations for changes to Park Use Permits
- Updating of Cumberland Community Forest Maps (to include new acquisition areas, trail designations)
- Development of updated list for the CCF Teacher resource for updating including:
- An updated curriculum linkages document (to BC Education deliverables)
- A one pager for new teachers/ program leaders that could stand alone from the curriculum package and orient them to the Cumberland Community Forest
- Updated maps and route suggestions
- A copy of the Villages Park Use Permit
- New human impacts exploration activities
- New sharing the forest with nature activities (focus on seasonal activities, reducing impacts on nesting birds, amphibians)
Site Planning and 5. Site Work
- Site visit with Village of Cumberland Parks Supervisor to assess high impact areas and current use patterns.
- Site visits with Education and Outreach team to assess high impact areas, current use patterns and future outdoor classroom sites.
- Development of criteria for identification of probable future classrooms sites.
- Identification and photographing of other ‘disturbed sites’ (old roadbeds etc.) where site projects would minimize ecosystem impacts
- Integration of feedback from current park users
- Map based / table-based planning sessions with Education and Outreach team.
- Proposal for the development of 3 low impact learning / gathering spaces in the park – implementation in the Spring of 2023
- Proposal for targeted restoration projects in high impact / high awareness areas – implementation in Spring 2023
The Cumberland Forest Education and Outreach Projects has had significant impacts on our community, and we are looking forward to amplifying these impacts going forward. These impacts include:
We directly reached over 375 students and helped to orient them to the history (geological, indigenous, industrial) of the land, awareness of human impacts, ecosystem health, share the trail principals, new trail designations, share with nature principles and community action opportunities. We focused on ‘meeting kids where they are at’ and having curiosity about how they see and use the forest with their friends and families. This work deepened their connection to the Cumberland Community Forest which is a building block toward stewardship and action.
Teachers and Program Leaders
Our outreach and relationship building with local teachers and program leaders has been highly impactful. Over twenty-five program leaders have connected to this project and expressed that the knowledge has been hugely helpful and that they would like to continue this engagement. Some had skills and knowledge to share with our team and others had the opportunity to express that they felt like they were “flying blind” when they took kids out into the forest. Many expressed anxiety and confusion about policy, trail designations and code of conduct. We also noted a wide range of classroom management approaches through this project. This will help us in the design and updating of teacher resources.
Village of Cumberland
This project is impacting the Village of Cumberland through assisting them in meeting their park management objectives. With over 750 acres of parkland under their responsibility, the Village has significant work on their hands and partnerships are key to achieving trail and park management objectives. This project was able to activate education and outreach objectives and strengthen linkages between the Village, parks policy and local education providers. This will result in greater collaboration in the stewardship of this shared resources and lower human impacts that will result in the need for restoration or remediation.
Community at Large
This project has impacted the community through impacting the kids! One of the best ways to reach the community on issues related to the environment is through working with teachers, and kids which in turn reaches their families and family networks with inspiration and direct connection to the issues at hand. This project has activated awareness about human impact issues in the Cumberland Community Forest and has helped us to reach many new residents to begin to orient them to the Park and its important connection