New_NAEE_charity_logoNAAEE‘s 15th Annual Research Symposium takes place in Spokane from October 9 to October 10, 2018.  Its co-Chairs write:

NAAEE’s annual Research Symposium brings together new and experienced researchers from around the globe to explore the current state and future directions of environmental education research and advance the use of practices proven to be effective. The symposium facilitates discussion about research in progress, fosters dialog about research-community partnerships, and provides opportunities for emerging as well as seasoned researchers to develop and expand their research skill
The keynote events and concurrent sessions of the 2018 Research Symposium are organized around three themes:
  • New Horizons in EE Research: Explore ideas and challenge of the age that might inspire and drive the next generation of EE research.
  • Intergenerational Conversations: Focus on new opportunities and challenge for researchers, research, and the Research Symposium, using an intergenerational conversation format.
  • Stories from Research: Discuss works in progress, the stories behind research, and how what we have learned might guide or prepare us for future research.

A reminder that, as part of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, the Department for Education will make available 10 million pounds to Defra to enable children in England, particularly those from disadvantaged areas, to be close to nature in and out of school in order to support their health and wellbeing.  Defra and Natural England intend to launch three projects starting in 2018 and ending by spring 2023, to deliver actions committed to in the 25 Year Environment Plan:

1. A Nature Friendly Schools Project, which aims to help schools and places of alternative provision, such as Pupil Referral Units, to create nature friendly grounds, increase the use of those grounds by pupils to improve their health and wellbeing, and to establish a regular and progressive programme of visits for pupils to experience the natural environment near and far from their school or education centre. The ambition for this project is that it should support in the region of 400-500 schools, AP institutions or education centres from the most disadvantaged areas of England.

2. A project to support the sustainable expansion of school outreach activities delivered by community forests.

3. A project to support a national expansion of care farming by 2023, increasing the number of places to 1.3m per year for children and adults in England. Together these projects form a substantial national demonstration programme. As such, the programme will be subject to robust, independent evaluation, and require high quality monitoring and reporting.

The closing date for expressions of interest is today with applications made through the BRAVO system – click on ‘opportunities’.  It’s not too late …


Butterfly Conservation reminds us that Moth Night 2018 finishes tonight.  The theme is Pyralid Moths and it will be both a day and night event.  This year there are prizes – check out the Taking Part page for more details.  Registered users can view a summary of sightings so far.


The Association for Science Education [ASE] is encouraging us to run a workshop with a Sustainability/Global learning theme at its conference in Birmingham in January 2019.  ASE notes that

“this is such an important topic, as borne out by young people themselves when they embark on their university careers.  For seven years in a row, 80 per cent of students have told an NUS survey that they want their institutions to be doing more on sustainability, and 60 per cent want to learn more about it.  In terms of school education , sadly the good  work undertaken up to 2010 has stalled a little , but here is a link to some great reports and evidence as to its impact.  The ASE therefore is very keen to reflect this evidence and student interest in the  programme that we offer to STEM professionals and we hope that you will be able to offer a workshop.  Finally here is a link to our ‘Sustainable school’ best practice guide  / Also do say if there is anything you need publicising we operate a regular series of regional or national newsletters.”   NAEE’s recent secondary school guide is part of this.


Countryside Jobs highlights the Horticultural Trades Association report on the benefits of primary school gardening  Together, we help children grow – The state of primary school gardening in the UK – highlights that 9 out of 10 primary schools run gardening activities. 94% of primary school heads and deputies believe that school gardening benefits either pupils’ health, mental wellbeing, social skills, concentration or learning. In spite of this though schools have only 33p per pupil to spend on the activity, and are in need of more funding and volunteer support.  The report also highlights the tremendous job that schools are doing with limited resources. With more support they could deliver even more benefits for the UK’s children.  School gardening has been shown to have many benefits to health and wellbeing.

These benefits include:

  • Children with access to decent green space are 24% more likely to be physically active.
  • There is a strong correlation between happiness and feeling connected with the natural world.
  • Working towards a common goal with peers (e.g. growing food for the school kitchen), helps pupils to break down many barriers to social interaction.
  • Research has found that school gardening can give a greater sense of achievement and responsibility.
  • School gardening has also been shown to improve concentration levels with children returning to the classroom ready and willing to learn.

While the research shows that teachers clearly believe in the benefits of school gardening too, they need for more funds and volunteers. 83% of primary school heads and deputies feel that more funds would help their school get more benefit from school gardening. 61% feel that more volunteers would help their school get more benefit from school gardening.

A full list of reports in Countryside Jobs can be found here.


As Bug Life reports, the EU Court of Justice has confirmed that the 2013 European Commission decision to protect bees by introducing a ban on the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides on flowering crops, was legal.  Bayer and Syngenta had challenged the decisions claiming that:

  • the EC exceeded its remit;
  • the economic cost to the pesticide industry should have been a key factor in the decision;
  • the bee pesticide risk assessment document should not have been used (because all member states had not endorsed it);
  • the science showed neonicotinoids were safe to bees.


The Woodland Trust says that there are 11 must-know facts about woods and forests in the UK.  These include:

  • Trees in forests communicate with each other through a fungal network or ‘wood wide web’
  • Around 13% of the UK is covered in woods and forests
  • The UK’s woods are home to almost half of all bluebells in the world
  • Spending time in woods and forests, or even just around trees, is proven to boost our health and wellbeing


The new research report from Fields in Trust – Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces: Measuring their economic and wellbeing value to individuals, provides a robust economic valuation of parks and green spaces in the UK as well as valuing improvements in health and wellbeing associated with their frequent use.  It is the first study on parks and green spaces to apply welfare weighting methodology allowing for more informed evidence-based policy decisions.


We are all warmly invited to join the RCE Severn Forum on 17th July to explore how to improve sustainability in our regions by 2050.  The Forum aims to bring people together to discuss ways to collaborate for change across our communities, with key speakers offering soundings on some of the issues at stake, links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and ways we can collaborate for change.  Discussions will feed into a submission to the ‘Gloucestershire 2050’ project, on behalf of RCE Severn.

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