2 May 2019
Sherborne Girls, The Gryphon and Sherborne School are thrilled to announce their participation in a new conservation and rewilding initiative for schools launched by the conservation charity, Operation Future Hope (OFH).
The OFH Conservation School Award Scheme will see considerable areas of ‘rewilding’ across each of the three school sites and will support the reintroduction, and protection, of flora and fauna within the schools’ grounds. Rewilding will help to restore and rejuvenate biodiversity within each campus with a vision to develop a sustainable and regenerative culture at each of the three schools.
Lesley Malpas, ecologist and founder of Operation Future Hope, explained:
“The aim of the award is twofold: to educate and raise awareness amongst young people of the devastating decline of nature and wildlife at a global scale, and to inspire and enable pupils to get involved in conservation locally; at every stage of the process, in a practical and meaningful way.
“In the UK we have seen a 75% decline in insect populations, a 97% loss of wildflower meadow habitat and across Europe a staggering 420 million birds have been lost from the countryside. Informing our children about ecological decline is essential if we are to fully prepare them for the future. Through rewilding we can give young people hope, an opportunity to turn this story around, help save our endangered species and reverse wildlife decline.”
Dr Ruth Sullivan, Headmistress of Sherborne Girls, added:
“Working with nature brings first-hand understanding of our connection with and dependence on ecosystem services and the need for us to care for the natural world; a message which is at the heart of the OFH Conservation School Award. We hope that this project really does sow the seeds of conservation and inspires the girls to take action – instilling a belief that stays with them always. I firmly believe it will bring huge physical and mental wellbeing benefits for us all on so many levels.”
Initial ground work started over the Easter holidays at Sherborne Girls, and there are already visible changes to some of the boundary areas where a wildflower meadow is being created to provide vital habitat for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. An orchard is being added and a new conservation hedge is due to be planted in the autumn to enrich the existing hedgerow for birds, small mammals, reptiles and insects. There are also plans for a ‘nature walk’ which will flow through the wildflower meadow, created by habitat creation specialist, Andrew George, with the aim of providing a place for pupils to be in and amongst nature – the design will transform areas which were previously simply amenity grass into a diverse and rich habitat for wildlife.
Sherborne Girls has been instrumental in encouraging other schools in town, including Sherborne School, to join the OFH initiative which encourages independent schools to nominate and sponsor a local state school to participate. Sherborne Girls is delighted to be working alongside Mrs Nicki Edwards, Headmistress at The Gryphon School, making it a truly collaborative and synchronised approach to re-wilding from the three senior schools in town.
Dr Dominic Luckett, Headmaster of Sherborne School, commented:
“Participation in the Conservation School Award Scheme presents a wonderful opportunity for our schools to work together to help address, on a local level, environmental issues about which we should all be concerned. The rewilding aspect of the project is important in itself, allowing us to restore and protect the biodiversity of our school grounds. Even more important than that, however, is the educative aspect of the programme, allowing our pupils to learn more about the environmental challenges that the world faces and, we hope, to be inspired to do something about them not just today but in the future.’
Nicki Edwards concluded:
“It is a real privilege to be involved in this project which not only has the potential to change our environment for the better but also to create a greater understanding of how we co-exist with nature.”
To find out how your school could participate or join in with Operation Future Hope, see the OFH website: https://www.operationfuturehope.org/