BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 20 Feb'15

260 SCHOOLS WILL HELP SAVE THE UK’S POLLINATORS THROUGH LEARNING THROUGH LANDSCAPES PROJECT

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced support for Polli:Nation, the UK-wide biodiversity project.

The programme helps schools and communities to protect the future of our seriously dwindling pollinating insect population. A grant of £1.4m has now been confirmed by HLF following the successful development of the project.

The funding came after the publication of a report by the Natural Capital Committee that showed the decline in our natural environment is harmful to the economy.

Pollination worth £430m/year

‘Free’ pollination by bees and other insects has previously been valued at £430m to UK agriculture each year, and is crucial to the survival of our countryside. But pollinating insects are in severe decline – with one of the main drivers thought to be the loss of natural and semi-natural habitats.

The Polli:Nation project will engage pupils, teachers and volunteers in 260 schools across the UK to transform school grounds and local community spaces into pollinator-friendly habitats.

Children and young people will learn all about pollinators and make changes to their local environments to improve opportunities for these precious insects.

Inspiring change

Launching the first UK-wide pollinator survey, Polli:Nation will equip children and local communities with the tools and skills to help scientists build a picture of the state and potential of habitats for our pollinators.

‘We are delighted that the Polli:Nation project has been funded by HLF, and that 260 schools can now transform their grounds to become pollinator-friendly spaces. Schools are at the heart of our communities and we hope through the Polli:Nation survey that children and adults alike will be inspired to make the changes needed to help our pollinating insects.

‘We believe that this important and inspiring project will help children and young people to learn about the development of their natural environments, both in and out of their school grounds, teaching them that the changes we make to our surroundings can have a profound effect on critical issues such as our deteriorating habitats.’

Juno Hollyhock, executive director of Learning through Landscapes

Benefits to learning

In a recent survey of schools that improved their grounds with Learning through Landscapes support, 88% said it had resulted in more creative learning and environmental awareness among pupils.

Despite these benefits, 80% of teachers in a recent MORI poll said they believe their school’s failing to make the most of its outdoor space. Learning through Landscapes aims to change this – and is the only organisation focusing specifically on school environments in order to do so.

Connecting to nature

Over the past 25 years, Learning through Landscapes has worked directly with over 10,000 schools, raised over 24 million pounds for grounds improvements and trained thousands of teachers and practitioners to help them rethink the design and use of their outdoor environments.

‘The huge contribution that our pollinators make to the country often goes unacknowledged but recent research has shown that they not only help our environment flourish but also have a real economic impact. We need to do all we can to halt the decline in pollinator habitats and schools can play a crucial role in turning the tide. The project reaches an impressive 260 schools nationwide giving it the potential to make a real difference. But it will also equip children with the skills and knowledge to connect to nature, something which HLF sees as invaluable if we are to protect our pollinators for the future.’

Drew Bennellick, Heritage Lottery Fund

Learning through Landscapes has developed the Polli:Nation project along with other sector partners including The Field Studies Council, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, OPAL Imperial College London, Stirling University, Bumblebee Conservation and The Conservation Volunteers.

To find out more about the Polli:Nation project and how you can get involved, visit the Learning Through Landscapes website.