By Katie Eberstein
BHCC Education Environment Officer
In the week when global leaders should have been meeting for COP26 to discuss how to address the climate and biodiversity emergency, schools and young people from around the country came together for the Youth Climate Summit.
This virtual event comprised of over 150 talks, workshops and activities, aimed at educating and inspiring young people to find out more about the climate crisis, discover ways to create a more sustainable world and make commitments and pledges for the planet.
As part of Sussex Wildlife Trust's work with Brighton & Hove City Council and their target of Carbon Neutral 2030, and in collaboration with The Living Coast UNESCO Biosphere, we are supporting schools in the city to address the climate and biodiversity emergency. The Youth Climate Summit provided a good opportunity to share our work with schools, presenting sessions on ‘School Grounds in a Changing Climate’, ‘Help Our Kelp’ and ‘Seashore Safari – an exploration of our local marine environment’. We also encouraged other local organisations to get involved, and local schools to attend events.
School grounds are important habitats for children and for wildlife. They provide a great opportunity for children both to play, learn outside and to engage with nature, something that is vital if they are to want to look after their environment. School grounds also provide a space for wildlife, providing important habitats and linking with other local greenspaces.
With our changing climate bringing hotter, dryer summers and warmer, wetter winters, school grounds need to adapt. They need to provide shade for children. They need to be able to absorb more rainfall, without becoming unusably muddy or flooded. They can also help struggling wildlife by providing places to feed, shelter or travel through. And on top of this, many of the natural solutions to climate change we talk about on a larger scale can be replicated in school grounds. By planting trees, hedges and other plants, and working to create healthy soil, we are helping lock up the carbon that causes climate change.
Over the last year, we have begun to think how we can support schools in their climate action. With one local school, Patcham Juniors, we have brought groups of children to The Deneway, a local Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve, to encourage nature connection, worked with teachers to look at what children and teachers need to address the climate emergency, and more recently built a beetle bank in their school grounds to support biodiversity.
Our work supporting Brighton and Hove City Council with the Youth Climate Summit and Patcham Junior School was recently featured on CBBC Newsround. Check it out here
Five top tips for building climate resilience in school grounds
Green your grounds
- Plant a tree, grow a hedge or make a mini meadow to attract wildlife and store more carbon
- Just add water – create a wildlife pond in the wettest area to reduce flooding and make a home for frogs, newts, dragonflies and more
- Use your butt! Save water by collecting the rain in a water butt, ready to use in the garden
- Protect our pollinators – grow flowers for butterflies and bees, and don’t use garden chemicals
- Go peat free – choose peat free compost to protect our precious peat bogs, which store three billion tonnes of carbon