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Abernethy pupils get wet and wild!

8th June 2007

PUPILS at Abernethy Primary are getting green fingered thanks to a grant which allowed them to build a pond and wildlife garden at the school.

The school was awarded a biodiversity grant by Cairngorms Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) project, which is funded by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and other partners, to improve its wildlife area. Pupils unveiled the new look garden last week.

A new pond has been built at the school, complete with native aquatic and marsh plants. An all access wooden foot bridge has been constructed over it to allow people to use it and study the pond’s wildlife and plants. Other features include a seasonal wet area at the site of a previous pond and a rockery garden.

A second garden, also funded through LBAP and Highland 2007, includes vegetable patches, tree and plant seedlings and plants to attract butterflies.

It is hoped the improvements will support and strengthen the local wildlife, habitats and biodiversity and also be used as an educational resource to improve the pupils learning and understanding of the environment.

The work was carried out earlier this year as part of the school’s successful bid to gain the Eco Schools Green Flag status. Eco Schools is an international project that aims to improve environmental learning and action in schools. Schools that have met all of the project’s criteria are awarded the Green Flag.

It also links in with two of the Priorities for Action for 2007-2012 in the National Park Plan, which sets out the Park’s short and long term future – conserving and enhancing biodiversity and landscapes and raising awareness and understanding of the Park.

Howard Edge, head teacher at the school, said: “The pond and garden will be great resources for the whole school when studying food, plants and wildlife.

“Creating a garden and improving the wildlife area were key targets in the school’s Eco Action Plan. The children are really excited about the new areas and looking forward to working in them in the future. The school is grateful for the support from Cairngorm National Park Authority and Highland 2007.”

And the pupils love their new garden.

Aaron Murray, who is in Primary Seven, said: “The garden is great for growing food, such as potatoes and rhubarb. We can use this in the canteen. Planting vegetables and flowers was great fun.”

Bethany Miller, also a P7 pupil, said: “The amount of effort put in to making the new pond was really worthwhile. The pond will be great for wildlife and interesting for the children.”

Justin Prigmore, the Local Biodiversity Action Plan Officer and who has been involved in the project, said: “This project is a great opportunity for showing children at the school the value of biodiversity, helping them to appreciate and be involved in it, while also providing a good piece of habitat for amphibians and invertebrates.”

Will Boyd Wallis, the CNPA’s Senior Land Management Officer, said: “The CNPA was delighted to support this project. The local wildlife and biodiversity is being strengthened and it is the pupils themselves who are involved in that work. It is important that we all play our part in protecting the special qualities of the Park. It is encouraging to see the young people in the Park doing this and we can all learn from them.”

Fiona Hampton, director of Highland 2007, said: “This is a really interesting project which Highland 2007 is delighted to be involved with. It is great the young people have the opportunity to actively learn about the environment in such a fun and interesting way. The funding for the garden and pond will leave a lasting legacy for future generations of children who will pass through the school.”

The garden was designed and built by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), with help from the pupils.

The LBAP grants are administered through the Community Investment Programme. It awards grants of up to £5,000 to communities whose work is contributing towards the Park’s four aims. For more information on CIP contact Patricia Methven, Leader+ Programme Manager on 01479 870 543.