We covered Chris Packham’s manifesto last week.  If you have read it, you’ll already know the prominence it gives to education and school-relied activities more widely, and sets out 8 proposals.  Here they are:

  • Rewrite Section 78 of The Education Act to place nature at the centre of the state curriculum from nursery to secondary school
  • Outdoor learning one day a fortnight, or equivalent, for every child in primary education
  • A youth-led re-wilding project of scale to be established in the UK, where all decisions are taken by young people aged 12–21
  • The John Muir Award which encourages “people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places” to be massively extended in scope across the UK
  • All UK cities and towns to increase their tree canopy cover to 20%, with the planting done by children from local schools
  • Give all primary and secondary school children access to outdoor growing facilities to provide ‘Edible Playgrounds’
  • The BBC to make a major documentary series addressing the biodiversity crisis
  • Instigate teacher-training programmes to train primary and secondary school teachers in outdoor learning

These proposals are introduced by an essay by Robert Macfarlane from the University of Cambridge.  With title: Ministry of Natural Culture and Education, he begins:

“A culture is no better than its woods,” wrote WH Auden in 1953.  Sixtyfive years on, Auden’s words carry a very modern warning.  As the living world is diminished around us, so we are also losing language, stories, songs, poems, dreams and hopes.  We need nature for its own sake above all, but also because it is vital to our imaginations and our spirits.  We think with nature.  We learn from it and in it, as well as about it. …”   The last part of this is something NAEE has always known.

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What do the following have in common: turtle doves, corn buttercup, high brown fritillary, red-barbed ant, small grey sedge fly, distinguished jumping spider?

The answer is that they are among those at risk of dying out in Britain.  A DEFRA report in July said that farmland birds and butterflies are particularly at risk.  According to the Times, a leaked report: The Natural England Action Plan 2018-19 to 2019-20 lists “key delivery risks” and says that there is a high likelihood of failing to meet the government’s “2020 target to secure an overall improvement in the status of our wildlife and to prevent any further human-induced extinctions of known threatened species”.  

The report also says that the government will not meet its 2011 commitment to ensure that at least 50% of England’s 4100 SSSIs will be in favourable condition by 2020.   Details of the six species mentioned are:

  • Turtle dove numbers have fallen by 94% since 1995, with farming depriving them of wildflower seeds.
  • High brown fritillary are confined to about 50 sites, including Dartmoor and Exmoor. A reduction in coppicing is to blame.
  • Corn buttercup is the smaller, paler relative of the common buttercup.  It iis being wiped out by non-selective herbicides and intense arable farming.
  • Distinguished jumping spider is probably confined to two sites in Kent and Essex.
  • Small grey sedge fly has not seen for more than ten years, possibly wiped out by the now banned sheep dip cypermethrin.
  • Red-barbed ants survive on the Isles of Scilly.

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Click here here to see what Slimbridge is offering in Wildwatch October including what the flamingos get up to at night, and the successful breeding of Asian bullfrogs.  WWT says it is pioneering techniques to find conservation solutions for now and the future, and that its experts have always used the most advanced techniques available to save threatened wildlife and wetlands in the UK and around the world.  Now the development of advanced light-weight tracking technology has enabled our specialists to uncover previously unknown threats to some of the world’s most endangered birds.  Details here.

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The Freshwater Habitats Trust has a new newsletter: Ripples.  One feature is about Flagship Ponds, the most special wildlife pond sites in the country, and there are #FlagshipPondFriday posts every week with details of every on the website.  The results of the 2018 spawn survey, created by Merseyside Biobank, are here.

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Julie’s Bicycle is a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. It believes that the creative community is uniquely placed to transform the conversation around climate change and translate it into action.  It aims to provide the creative community with the skills to act, using their creativity to influence one another, audiences and the wider movement.  There’s a programme of events, free resources and public speaking engagements, which contribute to national and international climate change policy development.  Details here.

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LEAF asks if  you are looking for autumn-related activities to use in and out of the classroom, and suggests you take a look at LEAF Education’s Autumn activities booklet which you can download here.  It also has materials to support farmers in hosting visits which can be found on the dedicated website.  The materials can be accessed by any farmers or outdoor educators who are thinking of starting to offer visits but there are resources too to help more experienced hosts to improve and enhance what they offer to schools.

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There’s more here on the World’s Largest lesson which brings the Sustainable Development (global) Goals to children over 130 countries.  It has free and creative resources for educators to teach lessons, run projects and stimulate action in support of the Goals, including animated films written by Sir Ken Robinson, animated by Aardman and introduced by figures students know and respect, like Emma Watson, Serena Williams, Malala Yousafzai, Kolo Touré, Neymar Jr, Hrithik Roshan and Nancy Ajram. The films establish a context for the Goals and inspire students to use their creative powers to support and take action for them.  It operates under a non-commercial creative commons licence and encourage you to share it widely.

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The Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP) has created a pledge for reinvigorating Environmental Education in the light of urgent sustainability challenges, and the global environmental education community is asked to ACT NOW FOR EE and work toward three visionary goals:

  1. Every nation has an environmentally informed, empowered, and active populace and workforce.
  2. The leadership of every government, business, NGO, and educational institution uses environmental education to achieve environmentally sustainable outcomes.
  3. Every educational institution incorporates environmental literacy into its mission, goals, and activities.
pledge letter  can be found here.  By signing it you are endorsing these long-term goals and committing to do your part to achieve them.  The website highlights 10 suggested areas for action.  Hundreds of educators around the world have commented on these actions and helped outline key areas of focus for the field.  Over time, GEEP will provide resources and support, including ongoing campaigns and activities, to help inspire action to move our collective agenda forward.  By signing the pledge, you can stay connected to this global network.
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The Eye on Earth movement and the Eye on Earth Alliance invite all who support evidence-based decision making for environmental and natural resource aspects of sustainable development to follow a symposium: Convene, Converge and Collaborate held in Dubai, 22-24 Oct. 2018.  To join a session’s live webcast go to GoToWebinar.com choose Join A Webinar and enter the session’s 9 digit webcast number (listed here).

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Finally, NAEE’s AGM is being held on November 3rd at Birmingham Botanic Gardens (a 1030 start).  All members welcome.