Discover The Countryside !

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The Fascinating World Around Us -
An Introduction to British Wildlife and Habitats, for 12 - 16 year olds.





5. Night Field Trips

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Get an entirely different perspective on the countryside and view it as few people see it. Visit the Centre at night when the atmosphere changes completely. Nothing looks the same in the dark. Creatures that we are often totally unaware even exist, come out of hiding under the cover of darkness.

Put out the moth trap in different habitats and see the difference in the variety of insects drawn to the light. Use a bat detector to track down different kinds of bats. The Centre is an important amphibian breeding site. Visit in March and see hundreds of Toads and search for palmate newts. Badger watch in the summer.

These activities will provide innumerable examples of species which can be used to explain a wide range of environmental principles.

6. The Environmental Jigsaw -
    How it all fits together - Ecology



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Everything in life is intricately interconnected. What are the connections? How do ecosystems work?
  • What factors affect ecosystems?
  • What makes habitats different?
  • Who eats who in different habitats?
  • What would happen if you took away a particular predator?
  • Why do shrews need to feed almost constantly?
  • What sort of teeth do predators have?
  • Where does the energy come from to drive food chains?
  • If all the aphids hatching out in one year, survived, to what depth would they cover the globe?

Competition between species. Succession. What happens on bare ground? Why do habitats never stay the same?

All of these principles will be demonstrated through taking a hands-on practical look at organisms in a variety of habitats. Important terminology will be defined.

7. Freshwater Ecology


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Water in all its endless fascination.

This activity will cover:

  • Water properties. How can insects walk on water? How do animals survive when ponds freeze?
  • The differences between running and still water.
  • Aquatic plant adaptations.
  • Succession and colonization in aquatic habitats.
  • Niches and microhabitats. Collembola  in the surface film, mayfly larvae in the plants, molluscs under the mud, water boatmen swimming in the water.
  • The variety of freshwater life. From diatoms to dragonflies and ducks.
  • Life cycles in aquatic organisms. From frog spawn to frogs and damselflies to larvae.
  • Adaptations of freshwater animals. Animal aqualungs, jaws to strike terror, paddles and oars.

These points will be illustrated with a practical look at the Centre's variety of freshwater habitats, including ponds, wetlands and streams.

8. The Complexity of Life
    Interactions between species


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This activity is designed to illustrate just how complex ecosystems are. It will take a look at some of the fascinating and often staggeringly complex interactions between species.
  • Why did a butterfly become extinct because there were no sheep?
  • Why do bees have smelly feet?
  • Why do some beetles pretend to be ants?
  • How can bluebells and oak trees be physically connected?
  • Solve the equation (alga + fungus) = ?
9. Recycling in Nature -


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Natural recycling: 'Death into life or, 'nothing is ever wasted'. How is it that an atom of carbon or nitrogen in your muscles may once have been part of a dinosaur or a trilobite?
  • What is the connection between dead animals and trees? Why aren't we drowning in dead leaves? Why is dung a highly desirable residence? - The importance of decomposition.
  • Organisms involved in recycling. From fantastic Fungi to unseen Bacteria and any number of weird invertebrates in between. 
  • Decomposition in different habitats. Recycling occurs everywhere. Bloodworms, flatworms and freshwater shrimps. Overload in freshwater -
    eutrophication and the resultant problems.

These points will be illustrated by practical investigation of a woodland and a freshwater habitat.

10. Conservation


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The Woodland Education Centre is an ideal location for explaining conservation and management of habitats. There is an enormous range of habitats available to illustrate the main points. These have been restored from essentially derelict land. The activity will look at the practicalities of conservation from a real working perspective.
  • Why do we need to conserve habitats and species?
  • Is it better to try to conserve individual species, or whole habitats?
  • What are the various different methods used?
  • What effect does agriculture have on wildlife and the landscape?
  • How can modern farming methods be made more wildlife friendly?


12+ Contents