Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

De Ark

A forest learning center in Sint-Niklaas

Miyawaki Method
Pocket Forest

The Ark is a primary school following the Freinet principle of ‘live learning’.

Students will discover a vast living space full of wonderful creatures, stories, possibilities, communities, cozy corners and thrilling adventures.

As we set out on our journey of teaching the next generation, we have a responsibility to (re-)connect pupils with their natural environment, so they can be rooted in neutral but diverse, common but extraordinary, thrilling but non-judgmental ground. And from those roots, build their own dreams as individuals and as engaged members of the community.


A school forest in St. Niklaas, Belgium.




Square Meters


Native Species

a dirt field
The site of De Ark Forest in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
green grass and trees
The pocket forest after 1.5 years growth

Forest Report: 1.5 Years

DATE: 22.08.2022

Survival Rate: 70%

Average of Tallest 3 Trees: 300cm

This pocket forest is growing well, with the birches -silver birch (Betual pendula) and downy birch (Betula pubescens) developing especially well.

Survival rate has suffered a little this year due to a population of rabbits ravaging the forest. Though following installation of a wire fence, this has addressed the issue and the rabbits have disappeared. This forest appears to have coped very well with the summer drought.

The forest is a joy for the school community, and classes are now being held in it regularly - in the area damaged by the rabbits.

Biodiversity Notes:

Various native perennials and flowering plants are now thriving in the forest, including sorrel (Rumex acetosa), creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), narrow plantain (Plantago lanceolata), wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare) and ironwort (Sideritis syriaca).

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
Bowny birch (Betula pubescens)

Forest Report: 9 Months

DATE: 15.10.2021

Survival Rate: 85%

Tallest Tree: 120cm

A big maintenance day happened on October 15, with the children of the school. We did have a small incident in this Pocket Forest — the local ‘park team’ thought it would be a great idea to create a path through the forest so they cleared some trees. The school direction has taken action, the missing trees will be replanted and they fenced the site.

“The world is our classroom, starting with the nearby school environment and neighborhood. As we venture out into the world, we discover a vast living space full of wonderful creatures, stories, possibilities, communities, cozy corners and thrilling adventures.”

Mieke Derynck, De Ark, leader in environment

Forest Report: Planting

DATE: 23.02.2021

Soil Sampling

Checking for:

  • Fertility
  • Minerals & Elements
  • Beneficial Biology - Microbes and Fungi
  • Organic matter - that holds Water
    and Carbon

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