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School students learn about nature conservation

4 July 2024

Children from Harcourt Primary School visited us recently to find out more about nature conservation and the habitats that can be found on our site.

Georgina Michael, Principal Ecologist, and Jon Ramsey, Principal Aquatic Ecologist from our consultants Stantec, led a series of activities including a habitat walk exploring the former racecourse and castle perimeter.  The children completed aquatic invertebrate identification from samples collected from the river and created a bug hotel in the centre of the former winner’s circle.  They were also shown wildlife camera recordings from some of the habitats that can be found on site.

Stantec have been providing ecological advice to Otterpool Park LLP for more than two years and over that time have captured and assessed large amounts of data on the habitats at Otterpool Park. This event provided the opportunity to share the findings with local students and teach them the importance of nature conservation.

Class teacher Louise Leggott commented, “Thank you so much for our fantastic day at Otterpool Park.  The pupils had a fantastic time and the workshops led by Georgie and John were both informative and very fun.

“Georgie and John were both excellent in leading the activities – they pitched their explanations at the perfect level for our children and took time to explain things in detail to individuals and answer all their questions.”

Another staff member added, “The site is beautiful.  It’s good to know that it is being developed with knowledge of the wildlife living there.”

Georgina Michael, Principal Ecologist from Stantec said, “Jon and I had a brilliant day with the students from Harcourt Primary School. The kids seemed really engaged in the activities – especially watching our infra-red videos of the badgers and identifying the aquatic invertebrates from the stream.

“We were thoroughly impressed with how much some of them already knew about wildlife. Our main aim of the day was to explain why certain wildlife is present at Otterpool Park and to highlight the importance of habitat variety.

“The Otterpool Park project will eventually contain thousands of new homes for local people but the students learnt how our work will also protect and restore the homes of the local wildlife. Thanks to Harcourt Primary, the site now also boasts a five starbug hotel, constructed using locally repurposed materials and finished with a thick layer of moss for added insulation! It was a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community and we hope we inspired the next generation into nature studies.”

Comments from the children included:

“I loved scraping all the moss up to make the bug hotel.  I think the wildlife will love living there.  We even made a slide for them!”

“The baby toad was so cute!”

“It was all great fun.  Can we do it again?”

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