School grounds provide an ideal opportunity to introduce children to the natural environment and to biodiversity in a practical way. They offer a safe and potentially exciting facility for outdoor education that can complement classroom-based activities.
Biodiversity provides direct links to the curriculum, providing knowledge, skills and understanding across the key stages in the following areas:
Pupils learn that the variety of plants and animals that exist makes it important to identify them and assign them to groups; that different plants and animals are found in different habitats; that habitats support a diversity of plants and animals that are all interdependent; that the distribution and relative abundance of organisms in habitats can be explained using ideas of interdependence, adaptation, competition and predation.
Biodiversity - or “biological diversity" is the amazing variety of all living things on our planet - from plankton, wildflowers and insects to mammals, reptiles, trees and birds. It also applies to the habitats in which these living things are to be found - oceans, woodlands, meadows and wetlands, as well as man-made places such as fields, parks and canals. Even so-called ‘wasteland’ can be a rich source of biodiversity.
Biodiversity is essential because it impacts on all of our lives, both directly and indirectly.
All species, including humans, require a range of basic resources to keep them alive and healthy. Humans need oxygen to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and shelter from the weather. The living things on our planet provide many of these things for us, so their conservation is vital if we are to survive.
Preserving planet Earth's biodiversity is also essential because:
Human life itself depends on the relationships between all living creatures and their environment, yet a lot of human activity is having a negative impact on biodiversity across the world. In the UK, the growth of urban development, intensive farming methods, the introduction of non-native species, transport and pollution has led to huge habitat and species decline and in some cases, extinction. The need to restore this 'balance of nature' has never been so urgent.
Biodiversity has connections with all the different environmental strands that, drawn together, characterise a healthy and caring Eco School. An Eco-School can care for biodiversity in several ways:
School grounds provide an ideal opportunity to introduce children to the natural environment and biodiversity. They offer a fantastic facility for outdoor education that can complement classroom-based activities. Nature areas within a school's grounds can add greatly to this.
In addition to curricular links, biodiversity work can also offer pupils the opportunity to assist with the provision of reliable, quality data on habitats and species that is crucial to national and local biodiversity action planning.
In the 1950's it was estimated there were 36.5million hedgehogs in Britain. It seems likely that there are now fewer than a million hedgehogs left. The biggest threats to hedgehogs are:
Hedgehogs prefer woodland edges, hedgerows and suburban habitats where there is plenty of food for them. Hedgehogs are very much a gardener’s friend as their diet includes many garden pests including slugs, snails and mice.
Hedgehogs hibernate every year, usually from about November to around Easter, but this is much affected by the weather. Hedgehogs normally wake up several times over winter and often build a new nest made of leaves, tucked under a bush or log pile or garden shed, anywhere that offers support and protection.
We can help give hedgehogs a home in gardens by taking some of these simple steps:
Download this lovely information leaflet on Hedgehogs
Please also take a look at this useful resource on how to detect hedgehogs.
Junior Pollinator Plan - help save our bees.
The Junior Pollinator Plan, presents ideas on bee conservation for a younger audience in a fun, easy to understand way. It encourages children to look at how they can help safe guard against the demise of bees in Ireland and will help children understand the importance of bees to our world and empower them to take action to help safeguard our pollinators. Click here to download the resource.
Lots of Eco-Schools choose to address biodiversity as part of their Action Plan. Visit the Case Studies section for more details. It’s also worth visiting the Delivery Partners and Outdoor Learning sections for further information on how to increase biodiversity within your school grounds. The importance of Learning Outside the Classroom cannot be overestimated, and biodiversity offers valuable ways to engage young people in their local environment, providing a much more creative and stimulating learning environment.
Does your school have a great idea for encouraging or monitoring biodiversity? If so, why not tell us about it? Contact us and we will share it with our network of Eco-Schools.