The Forest System

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40 hours) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation.

 

Contributors:
Ecologists, geologists, botanists, historians

Project Managers:
Lucille Negre, Florise Pagès, Mathieu Marion

 

Objectives:
The question is not “what is a forest?” but rather “what is this forest?” - the forest in which the students are invited to spend four days of observation alongside various experts and the main contributor, an ecologist.

Workshops:
DAY 1
How do we read a forest’s history? What traces are there of its past? Examining the famous “Bilboquet Bloc” and the Apremont outcrops, the class travels back in time to the forest’s earliest history. With the ENS Geology Laboratory, the students study samples of “Fontainebleau” sand, sandstone and limestone to find, for example, traces of the sea’s invasion 35 million years ago. With the team from GERSAR (the Studies, Research and Rock Art Preservation Group), the students explore rock engravings dating back to the Neolithic Age.

DAY 2
With the contributor, the group discovers the wealth of plant biodiversity living in the Fontainebleau Forest depending on its different environments (resinous woodland, sandy paths, wetlands, rocky sectors). How are these species connected? Oak, beech, mushrooms, moss, ivy and ferns form an ecosystem that the class will study, from the roots to the treetops.

DAY 3
From large mammals to insects via rodents and birds… with their contributor and an ethnologist, the students set off to seek out the animals that populate the forest. From strategic observation posts, they note any signs of their presence and discover their habitats, social behaviour, feeding patterns and interconnections. A second expedition is carried out, this time at night. In the darkness, they focus more specifically on identifying nocturnal species (moths, insects, etc.).

DAY 4
The remarkable characteristics of Fontainebleau Forest and its proximity to Paris have made this area one of the most visited forests in the Ile-de-France region with the result that it is threatened by pollution, growing urbanisation and tourism. With a climatologist from the Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory, the students learn about the consequences of global warming on this ecosystem: woodland density, carbon and nitrogen quantities, drought, etc. A meeting with the ONF (France’s National Forestry Office) highlights the impact of tourism on forests and the conservation methods the ONF uses to protect this area.

 

Participating Schools:
- AUGUSTE DELAUNE, BOBIGNY
- JEAN LURÇAT, SAINT DENIS
- JEAN VIGO, EPINAY SUR SEINE
- JORISSEN, DRANCY
- PAUL LANGEVIN, DRANCY

 

Photos: DAMIEN DELDICQUE, JÉRÔME AUBRY & ALEXANDRE SCHUBNEL, LABORATOIRE DE GÉOLOGIE DE L’ENS PARIS. 

The Forest System