Tree-based teaching for children

Child watering a tree. Photo by Pedro Kümmel on Unsplash

Photo by Pedro Kümmel on Unsplash

Andover’s Wendy Davis talks about her crusade for tree-based teaching for children.

“I’ve long specialised in environmental education, and for me it’s a no-brainer to get children learning outdoors. It should be every child’s right. In 2012 I founded Andover Trees United in order to give every primary pupil in the town a chance to plant a sapling in our 12-acre wood. Our goal is to get 10,000 native trees planted by 10,000 children across ten years, and create a woodland classroom as a lasting legacy.

Andover Tree United, volunteer-led group and registered charity

Andover Tree United, volunteer-led group and registered charity

“We’ve just hit the 8,000 mark, and some of our first trees are now 20ft tall. When the children come back and visit, there is always a stunned silence when they see how big they’ve grown!

The Woodland Trust has been super-supportive, sending us free community tree packs each year since 2013 – more than 2,700 saplings in all. Some go into school nursery beds, others straight into Harmony Wood. Last year we grew 3,000 native wildflowers, and we’ve an ongoing archaeology dig too. As part of our tree-based teaching for children we teach them how to coppice and look after woodland. There is our Six Trees and Six Flowers programme which aims to get all our children recognising 12 native species by the time they leave primary school. If we don’t tune them in to nature now, how can we expect them to fight for it when they’re older?

“We’ve shown what’s possible at local level – next we want to take the concept national. But we need the model to be economically sustainable – we can’t run it forever on passion alone!”

Photo by Maggie My Photo Album from Pexels

Lambeth’s air quality improvements

Lambeth's air quality improvements

Lambeth’s air quality improvements have been impressive; it was the first council in London to declare a Climate Emergency. The council actively works with residents to reduce carbon emissions across the borough. They also support active travel and they are investing in green and renewable energy. In addition to this, they are installing charging points for electric vehicles and planting trees, among other things. 

Last month, the Mayor of London announced that there have been major improvements in Lambeth’s air quality. Brixton Road, used to be one of the most polluted roads in London. It broke the hourly legal limit for toxic pollution in 2016 a total of 538 times. However, last year it didn’t break this legal limit at all. 

Over the next two years, the Brixton Liveable Neighbourhood programme (BLN) is going to provide better, quicker, cheaper or more convenient alternatives to private vehicles. You can subscribe for updates at: http://www.brixtonstreets.commonplace.is/news

Examples of support services include collaborating with Brixton BID and Zipcar for Business. Also, the Cross River Partnership is launching London’s first shared electric van that is free to use for local businesses in Brixton.

Let’s hope together we can create healthier and safer streets. 

Thinking of cycling?

The company Peddle My Wheels runs pop-up bike markets selling second-hand refurbished bikes. This started from the idea of collecting children’s bikes which parents often throw away. You can also decide to buy a brand new bike. Although, if you are not too sure if it is right for you, you can try the bike for a few months first. There is a monthly charge for this until you decide it is not suitable for you or until you own it out right. There are also electric cargo bikes suitable for businesses and available as well at a monthly fee. The scheme called ‘Try Before You Bike’ offers 2 hours of training to give you or your staff confidence on the streets. 

Ludo’s flatmates are regular cyclists and one of them started cycling thanks to this scheme. Ludo bought a second-hand bike a few months ago. She feels reassured that cars are becoming more aware of cyclists and that protected cycle routes have grown significantly in London.

Lambeth's air quality improvements