The DfE’s ‘Nature Parks’ to teach children about climate change

Recently, The Department for Education (DfE) released further details of its National Education Nature Park, created to teach children of all ages about climate change and improve biodiversity across the country. 

Esri UK is providing a digital mapping platform and expertise in biodiversity mapping to help underpin this initiative, which was first announced at COP26 by the Education Secretary. 

The purpose of the National Education Nature Park is to engage young people and teachers with nature, supporting them to play a driving role in mapping and monitoring biodiversity on their grounds using citizen science and taking action to enhance it. 

The DfE believe this could play an important part in increasing biodiversity across the education estate and have a real impact on halting the decline of nature in England. 

The Nature Park project will map, manage and enhance the grounds in every school, college or nursery in the country, creating one vast nature park roughly twice the size of Birmingham. 

Students will have the opportunity to transform their green spaces into their own nature park and play leadership roles in studying, managing and enhancing biodiversity and climate resilience. 

To deliver the project, DfE has created a partnership led by the Natural History Museum working with Esri UK, the Royal Hulticultural Society, the Royal Society, Royal Geographic Society, Learning through Landscapes, Manchester Metropolitan University and other supporting partners. 

The partnership will be working with Esri UK to devise digital tools for use by children and young people, such as mobile apps, enabling them to map the biodiversity of their school grounds and its improvement over time. 

Stuart Bonthrone, managing director of Esri UK, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Department for Education and partners on the National Education Nature Park initiative. 

“Biodiversity and environmental sustainability are at the heart of much of the work that Esri UK and our customers are involved in globally and we have a long-standing commitment to Education, providing our software free to schools in the UK and around the world.  

“We are therefore particularly proud to be part of this initiative which closely reflects the core nature and values of our business.” 

The Department for Education said the application of biodiversity mapping will help children and young people develop competences in mapping, numeracy and spatial awareness.  

The Nature Park will therefore help pupils and students to develop skills in data visualisation and analysis, encouraging analytical thinking and problem solving. 

The partnership will be creating quality assured information and teaching resources easily accessible to teachers to support them in delivering climate education across the curriculum.  

A new climate action award scheme will also recognise the work being undertaken in all education settings to protect green spaces and promote biodiversity. 

To find out more about the National Education Nature Park, schools and students can read the Department for Education’s blog and register for updates on the Natural History Museum’s website

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