Every child in England can boost biodiversity

An exciting project that connects children and young people to nature and empowers them to play a part in improving biodiversity and reducing climate change

School children in England are invited to play a part in improving biodiversity and taking action to address climate change, through a government-funded programme known as the National Education Nature Park. Children and young people who take part will undertake scientific research, learn life skills and develop a meaningful connection to nature.

The programme brings nurseries, schools and colleges together to create one vast nature park, tracking biodiversity improvement across an area that is more than twice the size of Birmingham. This will play an important part in increasing biodiversity across the education estate and therefore across England.

Through the Nature Park, children and young people will lead the way in making a positive difference to their own and to nature’s future. No one is too small to make a difference to improving biodiversity, and the voice of every child matters.

Introducing the National Education Nature Park

Find out more about this exciting programme and how children and young people can play a part in improving biodiversity and reducing climate change.

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How will schools in England increase biodiversity?

Pupils will map their school’s site by surveying what is living and growing there and by understanding how they and their peers use the space. Students will record their data on a national online map, which will document the progress the project is making to restore habitats and protect wildlife in England.

Using creative thinking and the latest scientific evidence provided by the programme, pupils will work together to create a plan to improve their school, college or nursery for nature, which they will then put into action. Potential plans could include growing pollinator-friendly plants or creating ponds, with students seeing first-hand the impact they are having on the world around them by monitoring how many birds, insects and animals visit.

Children and young people will play an important role in protecting nature in England, with scientists at the Natural History Museum using the data collected for real-life scientific research in the fight against biodiversity loss.

Alfie, a year six pupil who took part in the pilot in 2023, says:

“I think all schools should dedicate one lesson a day to learn about wildlife and the world around them, because the world we live in matters”

How to get involved

The National Education Nature Park is available to all education settings in England, regardless of how much green space they have. Educators can register their school, college or nursery to take part in the programme.

The National Education Nature Park’s resources, including curriculum-linked resources, are free to use.

Wendy, a teacher from Cherry Tree Primary School, says:

“This initiative will enrich the teaching curriculum, broadening and strengthening it. The children will see that their actions can have an impact, empowering them to use their voices to make a change for the better, for the future”

The RHS has an established reputation for working with children and young people, with over 50% of schools in the UK signed up to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. There’s a wealth of free resources on topics from food growing to plant spotter guides, to inspire children’s imaginations.

From September 2024, schools will be able to register to attend free Nature Park taster workshops within the five RHS Gardens to try out some Nature Park activities and gain inspiration to make their school sites greener.

Funding for the National Education Nature Park

During the 2023-24 academic year the RHS will grant over £3million to more than 400 nurseries, schools and colleges in areas where there is a distinct lack of nature to create their own green havens, on behalf of the Government’s Department for Education. This grant is enabling new spaces to be created that support wildlife habitats, are a hub for the development of green skills and help to tackle local environmental issues. A further round of grant funding will follow in the academic year 2024-25.

Funding forms part of the National Education Nature Parks programme in partnership with the Natural History Museum and Royal Horticultural Society and funded by the Department for Education to connect young people with nature through a series of mapping and monitoring activities. The Nature Park launched in October 2023 and so far has 2,400 education settings across England signed up.

The partners behind the programme

Led by the Natural History Museum (NHM) with the Royal Horticultural Society and Royal Society, this pioneering initiative will be run in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Manchester Metropolitan University, Learning Through Landscapes, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the National Biodiversity Network Trust, with Esri UK providing the digital mapping platform and expertise in biodiversity mapping.

It is hoped that the five-year programme, funded by the Government’s Department for Education, will provide insights on what the current situation of biodiversity in England is and how positive changes can influence this.

RHS Director General, Clare Matterson, who was formerly Executive Director of Engagement for the Natural History Museum, says:

Gardens are a gateway to a life with nature. Through the Nature Park, we are proud to work alongside our partners so that every child can learn new skills, support scientific research, create real change to increase biodiversity and develop a lifelong interest in the natural world around them

The National Education Nature Park formed part of plans, announced at COP26, detailing how the UK education sector is to become a world leader in climate change by 2030, and aligns with the RHS’s mission ‘to be there for everyone on their lifelong adventure with gardening’ outlined in the newly launched RHS Strategy to 2030.

Want to green your own garden? Check out our advice pages and start making your garden more biodiverse...

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.