Author Huw Morgan
For the third year running, as winter arrives, the Access to Nature project in Brighton has teamed up with Longhill School to offer pupils finding it difficult to access mainstream education, the chance to learn about woodland conservation and develop their practical skills. We work in a beautiful and remote corner of Stanmer Park in Brighton learning about the principals of coppicing and working with hazel, sycamore and ash. The group have been opening up glades to increase the variety of ground flora and biodiversity of the copse and thinking about how increased light and warmth attract insects and birds that prey on them.
The pupils learn the correct and safe way to use hand tools and develop their plant and tree identification skills as well as having a go at basic bushcraft such as fire lighting and shelter building. This year’s sessions are forming part of a programme to introduce the group to the Duke of Edinburgh award. In the past they have used some of the cut timber for artwork projects as well as producing a handbook outlining what they have learnt and the value of managing woodland and the benefits of coppicing.
As well as developing new skills and building awareness of the natural world around them, the session introduces the pupils to an area of the countryside that they have never visited before and aims to encourage them to get out and explore.