Schoolchildren Discover London's Wild Side
Wildlife TV presenter Nick Baker hailed the “joys of connecting with nature” on a visit to the Centre for Wildlife Gardening in Peckham, South London – as he helped inspire local schoolchildren find that connection for themselves. The naturalist spent an hour with a class of 25 children from Southwark Park Primary School, encouraging them to discover the many varied aquatic species that can be found at the Centre for Wildlife Gardening’s large pond, including ramshorn snails, water boatman, and leeches. The children also took part in log hunts and bush shaking, finding other species such as lesser stag beetles. If you had visited this spot in Marsden Road in the seventies you’d have found a bin lorry depot, with little green to be found; but today the Centre for Wildlife Gardening is in its 27th year and acts as London Wildlife Trust’s base south of the River Thames. The Trust runs regular outdoor education sessions at the Centre; providing fun, interactive sessions that allow children to enjoy and experience the natural world. Dubbed ‘Wild About Learning’, typical sessions include exploring for mini-beasts beneath logs and stones, and fishing for tadpoles and insects in the Centre’s ponds. Children can also learn which birds nest in which trees, find out how to spot stag beetle larvae in rotting logs and discover the flowers that bees like most. This year these sessions have been funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which is working with The Wildlife Trusts to provide outdoor learning lessons for children in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester and Nottinghamshire. Nick Baker thanked players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their support, and said: “For the hour it took me to get here travelling across central London to Peckham, I was denied any natural experience. That was until I arrived at the Centre for Wildlife Gardening, a wonderful oasis for nature. “Places like this allow us to connect with nature. I have been here working with local kids, showing them the joys of connecting with nature. They have all gone away with a smile on their face. That is what The Wildlife Trusts are all about, and in 2016 players of People’s Postcode Lottery have funded these Wild about Learning sessions here in the capital, setting an ambitious target of engaging 1,500 children. Already, before the summer holidays have even started, 2,000 children have come to London to connect with nature.” Next time you’re in London, remember how close nature remains to us all, and how important it is for children to connect with these pockets of wildness that still thrive in our capital city.