Nature Park project will map grounds of every school, creating one vast nature park roughly twice the size of Birmingham
The Department for Education (DfE) has released further details of its National Education Nature Park, created to teach children of all ages about climate change and improve biodiversity across the country. Esri UK is providing a digital mapping platform and expertise in biodiversity mapping to help underpin this exciting initiative, first announced at COP26 by the Education Secretary.
The National Education Nature Park will engage young people and teachers with nature, supporting them to play a driving role in mapping and monitoring biodiversity on their grounds using citizen science and, critically, taking action to enhance it. The DfE believe this could play an important part in increasing biodiversity across the education estate and have a real impact on halting the decline of nature in England.
The Nature Park project will map, manage and enhance the grounds in every school, college or nursery in the country, creating one, vast nature park roughly twice the size of Birmingham. Students will have the opportunity to transform their green spaces into their own Nature Park and play leadership roles in studying, managing and enhancing biodiversity and climate resilience.
To deliver the project, DfE has created a partnership led by the Natural History Museum working with Esri UK, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Royal Society, Royal Geographical Society, Learning through Landscapes, Manchester Metropolitan University and other supporting partners.
The partnership will be working with Esri UK to devise digital tools for use by children and young people, such as mobile apps, enabling them to map the biodiversity of their school grounds and its improvement over time.
“We are delighted to be working with the Department for Education and partners on the National Education Nature Park initiative,” said Stuart Bonthrone, Managing Director of Esri UK. “Biodiversity and environmental sustainability are at the heart of much of the work that Esri UK and our customers are involved in globally and we have a long-standing commitment to Education, providing our software free to schools in the UK and around the world. We are therefore particularly proud to be part of this initiative which closely reflects the core nature and values of our business.”
In addition to improving biodiversity across the country and engaging young people in nature, the application of biodiversity mapping will help children and young people develop competences in mapping, numeracy and spatial awareness. The Nature Park will therefore help pupils and students to develop skills in data visualisation and analysis, encouraging analytical thinking and problem solving.
The project is a perfect fit for Esri UK. For over 50 years, Esri has been committed to the conservation of the planet, developing geospatial solutions that help to protect it. In the UK Education sector, over 3,000 schools currently use its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software as part of the Esri UK Education programme, which provides free access to its software, teaching resources and teacher training.
The partnership will be creating a wealth of curated and quality assured information and teaching resources easily accessible to teachers to support them in delivering climate education across the curriculum. A new climate action award scheme will also recognise the work being undertaken in all education settings to protect green spaces and promote biodiversity.