An outdoor classroom in the forest: new “marteloscope” educational site inaugurated in Ljubljana

Šmarna gora, the highest hill in the city of Ljubljana, is now more than an iconic landscape monument and a destination for hikers. With the opening of the first “marteloscope” in central Slovenia, its slopes have been transformed into an outdoor classroom for school pupils thanks to an initiative of the EU-funded research and innovation project MULTIPLIERS.

Marteloscopes are forest training sites where all trees are marked, measured and located on a digital map. The recorded site information can then be visualised using a software running on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones and in this way find application for education and training directly in the forest. The educational site on the slopes of Šmarna gora, inaugurated on April 16th, is specifically tailored to teach pupils about the importance of forests, their biodiversity – such as tree species diversity, birds, fungi and insects – but also the various ecosystem services forests provide, including soil protection, recreation, water regulation and climate change mitigation.

The marteloscope was established as a joint effort by the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana, the Slovenian Forest Service, the Slovenian Forest Institute, the primary school Šmartno pod Šmarno goro, the Integrate Network and the European Forest Institute as part of MULTIPLIERS.

With the help of the tablet software, school pupils can visualise the presence of tree microhabitats, such as tree cavities, woodpecker holes, lichens and fungi on the bark of the trees. It also displays tree species, the height and diameter, the wood quality and the corresponding economic value of each tree. With the help of this information, children can get insight on complex decision-making processes around forests, their use and provision of different ecosystem services as well as the role of forest protection.

“As foresters, we would like to educate pupils, children and the general public about forests and forestry in Slovenia, where we do close-to-nature forest management. We would like to share this knowledge with other people and show them why forest management is important.”

Kristina Sever, forester with the Slovenian Forest Service responsible for implementing the marteloscope

The use of marteloscope is one of the activities of the MULTIPLIERS project in Slovenia, with the objective to increase school pupils’ interest in science, connect it to their everyday lives and make it more meaningful. Pupils of the primary school Šmartno pod Šmarno goro had their first lessons on Šmarna gora in the first weeks of April, sharing the knowledge they acquired in the course of a joint forest visit on 16th of April with members of the MULTIPLIERS project representing five countries: Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. In Slovenia, the project is led by the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana.

“All pupils need stimulating learning environments in which they can better understand the complexities of natural and social environments. That is why outdoor lessons are an important part of quality education. I would like to thank the management of the primary school Šmartno pod Šmarno Gora and the teacher Andreja Dolenec, for recognizing the importance of the project and participating in the implementation of the marteloscope.”

Gregor Torkar, professor from the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana

“The visits to the forest here were so interesting because were in nature. We can touch the trees, touch the cavities and see what animals are living in there. It’s better than in the classroom because there we can only look at pictures.”

Vesna and Naja, pupils of school Šmartno pod Šmarno goro

The opening of the marteloscope in Šmarna gora adds to two other marteloscope sites in Slovenia: one in Pahernik, near Maribor, the second in Ravna gora, in the forest of Krakovski gozd in Koprivnik.

Click here to learn more about marteloscopes!