The Group have been given funds by RBS to use on a local project for the community. After much deliberation we decided that a wildife community project being set up by Northfleet School for Girls would be a great initiative to support. The long term plan is to expand their allotment and wildlife area, allowing for the local community to use the allotments and the school to maximise the pond and wildlife area for education.
The pond was originally installed some years ago and has become overgrown, and on the face of it is a great resource, but needs to be surveyed with an idea to making it safe and useable by the pupils and also to find out exactly what species are present. The area around it needs to be mapped and the various species of flora and fauna logged. So it was that Malcolm and I arrived at the school to help a few of the pupils start the process of surveying the area.
The first priority is to make the pond area safe. The wooden “bridge” which spans the edge of the pond and bog garden needs to be either repaired or replaced completely and the Group have initially paid for the tools to enable the pupils to begin the surveying process, including collecting and viewing tubes for insects, gloves and pond dipping equipment.
Those taking part are the first members of the Eco-club and will be the mentors for the rest of the school from September. So, led by their teacher, the girls helped to map out this area of the school grounds. With GPS and a tape measure and a rough sketch of the area, we gradually worked our way around the site. As we wandered around the area with the girls we decided what made up the various strategic parts of the garden. We found a huge area behind trees and a beech hedge. This has been mown in the centre but left with broad grassy edges full of a variety of grasses and wildflowers. The allotment area had already been created with various vegetables and fruits being grown. Other sites were being cleared and covered to prevent regrowth of weeds.
The girls collected many samples of leaves and flowers which were then scanned and filed for future investigation. We found two different mallows, orchids, caterpillars, snails, many differing trees and shrubs.
After a morning of mapping, measuring and photography, the afteroon was spent pond dipping and once again, photographing the species found which included leeches, water-boatmen, beetles, and common newt tadpoles.
This is of course very much a long-term project which will enable the pupils to follow progress as they in turn continue their educational development. It will be great to watch this brilliant initiative progress, can’t wait to see how the pond develops.
Here’s wishing them well
Malcolm and Sue