Biodiversity can be defined as the variability among organisms on earth and within an ecosystem. Biodiversity is all around us – from wildflowers and insects to mammals and birds. It includes woodlands, meadows, wetlands and other natural habitats, as well as man-made places such as plantations, fields, canals and gardens – even ‘wasteland’ can be valuable for wildlife.
Why does biodiversity matter?
As species become extinct or rare we may lose medicinal benefits and we don’t truly know what will happen to the rest of the ecosystem without them
A healthy ecosystem can help to control flooding, drought and even soil erosion
Humans need natural spaces for leisure and relaxation
Every species on the globe have the same moral right to exist as humans do
Biodiversity and schools
Your school grounds are great places to encourage children to do their bit and get them involved in a hands on way with the natural environment. They offer a safe, practical and exciting opportunity for outdoor learning that can complement classroom-based activities.
The Eco-Schools programme provides knowledge-based learning and links to the school curriculum in the following topics:
Humans and other animals
Variation and classification, inheritance and evolution
Living things in their environment
By choosing to look at biodiversity in the school grounds you can:
Increase awareness of biodiversity issues in the locality and in a global sense
Raise awareness of the benefits of biodiversity and teach pupils how to measure biodiversity
Encourage pupils to work with nature more and be more nature friendly
Encourage health and wellbeing as well as global awareness, along with biodiversity issues
The Pod - EDF Energy's Programme for Greener Schools
The Pod, EDF Energy’s Programme for Greener Schools, can help you with the biodiversity topic. The Pod is an interactive online resource for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 teachers and pupils. It aims to make real and measurable improvement to the resource use and carbon output of schools across the country.
All activities on the Pod are accredited by Eco-Schools England and specifically designed to help schools progress through the Eco-Schools programme and achieve Bronze, Silver and Green Flag awards.
Both teachers and pupils can use the Pod and joining is completely free. Visit www.jointhepod.org to register.
The Pod’s biodiversity activities
The Pod offers a range of practical biodiversity activities, designed to be run either by a teacher, class or Eco-Committee. The Pod’s activities typically come with an activity resource pack, lesson plan, take-it-home sheet, interactive game, assembly and an audit to help you track and measure the impact of the activity. Upon finishing an activity you can enter your start and end audit data into the Pod’s special online Pod-o-Meters to measure any savings made. The Pod’s biodiversity information pack, helps you understand the importance of biodiversity, how it can be measured, threats facing it, ways of protecting it and much more.
The Pod is expanding its resources all the time, but the following is a list of the biodiversity activities currently available for Key Stage 2 and 3.
Bug Hotel: Create a bug hotel in your school grounds and watch who comes to stay
Will the Worm: It's time to build a compost bin for Will and his friends. Learn what needs to go into it and see the results!
Inspire sheets: help inspire those at home and in the local community to appreciate and protect biodiversity
The audits that accompany each of the activities can be used to support your Environmental Review and your monitoring and evaluation efforts; and the activity’s associated lesson plans will help you link biodiversity into the curriculum.
Visit the Pod's Activity pages.
Linking biodiversity into the curriculum
Eco-Schools England have developed a series of lesson ideas designed to inspire you on your journey to embedding sustainable issues into everyday lessons. We have primary and secondary ideas that will encourage your students to solve real-life problems and present their solutions in a variety of ways.
Many of these lesson ideas cover the biodiversity topic as well as link into a range of curriculum areas. Visit our Eco-Schools Free Resources section to find out more and to download these lesson ideas.
See how other Eco-Schools have successfully addressed the biodiversity topic
Other sources of school biodiversity resources
Visit the Woodland Trust's Nature Detectives for access to a wealth of resources and downloads. Many Eco-Schools work on joint projects with their local Wildlife Trust, why not contact yours to see what they can offer.
To see a list of other organisations that can provide you with school resources and advice on tackling the biodiversity topic, or help you improve biodiversity in your school grounds, visit our Useful Links page.
National Awareness Days and Campaigns
There are many National Awareness Days, events and campaigns that tie in with the Eco-Schools biodiversity topic. Why not use them as a way to introduce biodiveristy issues or projects to your classes and get your students really interested and involved with them. Click on the titles to find out more.
You can get all the environmental awareness dates for the coming academic year, as well as dates for Eco-Schools and Pod events by downloading the 2012-2013 Year Planner.