Discover The Countryside !

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The Fascinating World Around Us -
An Introduction to British Wildlife and Habitats, for 16 - 22 year olds.


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The list below outlines each of the 10 activities currently on offer.

Please note that we are very flexible at the Woodland Education Centre!

Each activity is designed to last a full day, but can be scaled down to half a day.  In addition, you can mix and match topics from different activities to cover your individual needs. All you need to do is ask.  In addition, if you have particular requirements which are not met by any of the activities offered, then contact the Centre and we will be happy to discuss developing an activity to suit your needs.

Staff from the Centre can also come to you at your location to lead the activities, provided you have suitable habitats locally. If this is not feasible, the factual content of the activities can also be delivered as a talk, rather than as a practical activity. There is no charge for this service.

Contact details for The Woodland Education Centre.

Each activity comprises:

  • a short general introduction to the topic involved.

  • a guided interactive tour of selected habitats.

  • a practical group activity for the students which clearly illustrates the basic points covered.

  • follow-up work, with an 'Offwell Web Quest' where relevant.

  • preliminary work may be suggested for some of the activities.

List of Activities

Activity Outline
1.  Introducing the Countryside.



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Why is this place as it is?

In any particular place, there are clues all around us which give us subtle information about the area. All that is required is keen observation and the ability to fit together often disparate pieces of information.

  • Spot a particular kind of plant and it may tell you something about the geology of the area, or about the kind of butterflies and invertebrates you are likely to find.
  • Finding fossils will tell you something about where the area was located millions of years ago.
  • Knowledge of prevailing local weather conditions and observations on the relief of an area may give you a good idea of what the microclimate is like.
  • This in turn will give some idea of what species are likely be found there.
  • Animal tracks, rubbed tree bark, chewed hazelnuts and piles of discarded feathers all give clues to some of the animals living in the area, even if they are not immediately visible.
  • Past uses of the area may be indicated by features such as old hedge banks, or old burial mounds.

Put all the clues together and suddenly you have a very good understanding and feeling for the area. 

Test your practical observation skills. Put them together with information from a wide range of subjects such as British history, geography, geology, biology and ecology and learn to interpret the landscape.

This activity is not site specific and can be carried out anywhere.

2.  Habitats - What's in an address?


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Work out the following key points by comparing three very different, but equally fascinating habitats.
  • What makes habitats different from each other?
  • What are the key factors involved in determining habitat type?
  • What characteristics do particular habitats have? What species would you expect to find there and how do they interact?

These points will all be looked at in detail, using practical observations to compare a woodland, a wetland and a heathland habitat.  There will be many examples of wonderfully adapted organisms to study along the way.

3. Woodlands are more than just trees.


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This activity will look at different types of woodlands and at all the many extremely varied habitats within them. 

Find such unexpected creatures as pseudoscorpions on the woodland floor. Look at the extraordinary diversity of invertebrate life living in rotting wood, or in all the different mosses and lichens clothing tree bark. Search out an amazing variety of fungi of different colours and forms.

The activity will cover topics such as:

  • Layers within a woodland.
  • The contrasts between broadleaf and coniferous woodlands.
  • Broadleaf woodlands - Oak, Beech, mixed, Alder Carr.
  • Ancient woodlands - ancient woodland plant indicator species.
  • Coniferous woodland - forestry or natural?
  • Forestry - The effects on the habitat of the tree species used, the age of the crop, planting density and thinning.
  • Woodland Management. Coppicing, rides, glades.

By the end of the activity, students will have looked at a variety of woodlands in great detail. 

4. Wetlands - a diversity of plants and animals.


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Wetlands provide an endlessly fascinating background for general environmental investigation.

The following topics will all be covered.

  • The different tolerances of aquatic plants to life in water.
  • The resulting transitions of plant type within a wetland from open water, through swamp, marsh and drier land to Alder carr woodland.
  • Adaptations of aquatic plants and animals.
  • Succession and colonization in aquatic habitats.
  • Niches and microhabitats. What lives on the willows, in the mosses, on the water surface, in the small pools?
  • How do you manage wetlands? What factors need to be considered?



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