School pupils from Milton of Balgonie Primary School are assisting the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust with a project to help the conservation of game and wildlife at Balgonie Estates in Fife. The children first visited the Estate in April as they were keen to find out why it was important to create habitats ideally suited to both game and songbirds and to find out about the research work being carried out by the GWCT team at Balgonie.
Head teacher Siobhan Haldane said the children are currently working on an outdoor learning programme ‘Natural Connections’ and are about to embark upon level 3, something that no primary school has yet achieved. This involves 20 hours helping the environment. As the school pupils were very much inspired by what they learned on their day out in the field in the spring, they wanted to know what they could do to get actively involved as a class to take responsibility for a conservation project.
Dr Dave Parish, head of lowland research for the GWCT, suggested planting a hedge with a variety of plants such as hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose, beech, holly and dog rose so as to create a greater variety of food resources (both nectar/pollen and berries/seeds) and shelter, which will benefit a broader range of wildlife. It will also provide different resources at different times of year: good nesting cover in spring and good escape cover/shelter in the winter.
Balgonie Estates was delighted to hear of the school pupils’ request and has very generously provided a variety of plants. With the assistance of John Drysdale of Kingdom Farming, who manages the farm, an area has been put aside and prepared for the children to plant out their hedge. The youngsters will continue to keep a close eye on the maintenance of the hedge as it becomes established.