National Education Nature Park for England

CIEEM members have a great opportunity to help create England’s first National Education Nature Park. Here’s how.

The importance of creating opportunities for children to connect with nature is well known. But access to nature is not equitable and many young people, especially those living in areas with predominantly lower income households, do not have regular contact with the natural world, let alone the opportunities to touch, smell and wonder at what so many of us take for granted.

The National Education Nature Park aims to challenge this inequality. It is a partnership initiative between the Department of Education (DfE) in England, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Horticultural Society and a number of other supporting partners that aims to ensure that  every young person in England has opportunities to develop a meaningful connection to nature.

The concept is simple. Schools (including Early Years schools and sixth form colleges) have outdoor spaces that collectively accommodate millions of school-age children for at least some part of over 250 days a year. By creating more areas of schools’ grounds where nature can thrive the ambition is to effectively aggregate these areas into a National Nature Park that makes its own contribution into tackling biodiversity loss as well as providing opportunities for all school-age children to engage with the natural world.

Over 2000 schools have now registered to take part and are taking their first steps on a journey to involve their pupils in creating and managing these areas, promoting an awareness of environmental issues and a sense of stewardship. DfE is providing  grant funding for schools in the most deprived areas as well as resources to help teachers make the most of the educational opportunities that arise.

Whether creating ponds, planting pollinator-friendly plants or building log piles, there will be opportunities to learn how to observe, collect data, monitor changes and understand climate resilience.

Esri UK is providing digital mapping capability so that, over time, a digital picture will emerge of the extent of the National Nature Park, the different habitats that have been created and maintained.

This is a great opportunity for CIEEM members in England to get involved as volunteers. Many schools will welcome advice on habitat creation and, most importantly, management as well as help with data collection and monitoring. Not only will this practical help and support enable schools to make the most of this opportunity, it is a great way to showcase the work of ecologists and environmental managers and encourage young people to consider a future career in our sector. We could be helping to make the National Nature Park a success.

Find out more by joining the National Education Nature Park webinar on 25th April.

If you are interested in volunteering to support a local school complete this form and we will help to connect you.