The High Life Highland Countryside Rangers are helping teachers and pupils make space for nature this spring by encouraging learning and creation of a very special and increasingly rare habitat.
From February, classes in primary schools will be able to book a local ranger to deliver outdoor sessions all about wildflowers and the benefits they bring to us and wildlife. A key part of the delivery will be encouraging planting of wildflowers in school grounds.
High Life Highland Countryside Ranger, Paul Castle explained why wildflowers is the Ranger team’s chosen education topic for 2023:
“Wildflower meadows have seen a decline of 97% since the 1930s and this is catastrophic for many species as well as our own. Hundreds of pollinating insects rely on wildflower meadows for food, and we rely on pollinators for much of our food. That is a very serious part of wanting to encourage awareness about the benefits of wildflowers and help with the creation of more wildflower areas in the Highlands.’’
“It is more than trying to do our bit to help reverse the negative trend in wildflower loss, it is also about the intrinsic value of wildflowers. It is important to recognise how joyous and vibrant a wildflower patch can be and how it can lift your mood to see the colour of the flowers and and to hear the sounds and sights of the wildlife that lives among them. We want to celebrate this as well as sharing our knowledge with as many children as possible. By teaching the children about biology, wildlife and conservation of wildflower meadows, we hope pupils will enjoy the uplifting benefits of spending time outside in this habitat for many years to come.”
In addition to sessions delivered in schools, from April teachers will have access to a host of activities and information online put together by the HLH Countryside Ranger Service. Highlife Wildlife Wildflowers Google Classroom will remain available on the platform all year as a resource for teachers.Just as with the in-person ranger-led sessions, the online material will cover subjects such as, how to create a wildflower patch, our heritage links with wild plants and the importance of wildflower meadows to wildlife and humans.
To tie all of this up, as part of both the Google Classroom and in-person wildflower schools project, Highland Primary school pupils will be invited to create a poem about wildflowers in English or Gaelic. The winning pupil for each English and Gaelic entry will win a prize for their whole class, a tour around the Inverness Botanical Gardens with hands on experience and a wildflower kit to take away. The deadline for entries to this is 26 May 2023.