Environmental Education

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The Trust has been contracting Alan Bruford, a local education ranger, to take Tale Valley children on adventures to learn about their local wildlife and the environment. 

As one of its objectives, the Trust undertook to provide environmental education within the Tale Valley and was supported in this objective by funding from The Claude & Margaret Pike Charity, East Devon District Council, Lloyds TSB Foundation and donations from local supporters.  The Education Ranger Project was launched and Alan Bruford was contracted to work in the Valley. The trial education project has proved to be such a success that the Trust is determined that it should continue.  

Curriculum Development

Environmental and “Earth Education~’ has been developed in the valley to match the requirements of the National Curriculum for schools and other groups.  The Education Ranger works with local primary and secondary schools and playgroups in the Tale Valley area, including Clyst Hydon School, Clyst Vale Community College, Feniton, Newton Poppleford, Payhembury and Plymtree Schools.  In addition, teachers of children and adults with special needs find the activities very useful and a groups from Broadclyst Primary School, Kings School, Clyst Vale Community College and Two Moors School in Tiverton visit the valley regularly.

Weekly workshops are run for the Side by Side Group, from the Honiton Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit. Community groups,  both adult clubs and societies as well as youth groups,  are included in the Education Ranger’s programme. 

The wide variety of activities include:

  • Pond dipping
  • Exploring the wetlands
  • Tree life cycles, seed and leafidentification, seed collecting and planting
  • Woodland walks and exploration
  • The Dormouse Project
  • River walks and wildlife studies
  • Farm visits and farm activities
  • Building hides for wildlife watching
  • Story telling, treasure hunts and play acting
  • Workshops in cob building, green wood carpentry and willow weaving
  • Learning through play - for example, life cycles and food chain
  • Guided visits to other environmental centres such as the Eden Project
  • Earthwalks, concept paths and chain gangs

River Tale Demonstration Site

The Demonstration Site and river walk by Clapperentale Bridge make an ideal focus for some of the activities run by the Education Ranger. The site provides opportunities for groups to learn about their river, its ecosystem and the importance of conservation.

 

Tale Dormouse Project

 

In the past Escot Estate, in the heart of the Tale Valley, has had more than 50 dormice boxes up, over three locations, which were regularly checked by Education Ranger, Alan Bruford, with the help of many schools and groups. Over the years these boxes have deteriorated. It is now the aim of Escot’s Nature Rangers, with the help of Stephen Carroll of the Devon Wildlife Trust, to replace or repair existing boxes in order to participate in the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP).

 

The NDMP collects data from key sites in various parts of the country. Their aim is to collect long-term data about abundance, annual variation in timings and success of breeding and also population density in different habitats and geographical areas.

In order to participate a site needs to have at least 30 boxes in place and be willing to monitor them regularly. The person responsible for monitoring the dormice boxes needs to hold a license; this is required by law as dormice are a protected species.

 

During 2011 and 2012 Victoria and Kerry, the Nature Rangers at Escot will be working with Stephen Carroll, a licensed Dormouse handler, checking the existing boxes, making repairs and putting up new boxes to fill in gaps. This will enable the Nature Rangers to gain the experience needed in order to apply for their own licenses. They have already completed the Dormouse Ecology and Conservation Course and have gained extra experience with other Dormouse handlers at Stover Park and Holiford Woods in Colyford.

It is also hoped that two of the current locations, Boat House Lake and Rowden End Wood, can be linked by putting up boxes along an adjoining hedge line to determine if the dormice are travelling from one wood to the other.

The presence of dormice is a good indicator of a healthy indigenous biodiversity and there have been many sightings of dormice on Escot Estate.  We hope to submit our data to the NDMP to help them with their research and protect the sites Dormice inhabit at Escot.

If you would like further information regarding this project, please contact Victoria and Kerry on 01404 822188 or rangers@escot-devon.co.uk

 

Project Progress

Dormouse trails have been established on a farm at Yellingham and at Escot, 98 boxes are now in place. Students have been studying dormouse ecology and thereby the whole ecology of the Tale Valley because dormice are such a good indicator species of indigenous biodiversity.

The children have learnt to identify the necessary flowers, berries, nuts and shelters that dormice require for a successful life.

To arrange a visit to the Tale Valley for a group of adults or children you can contact Alan Bruford on telephone 01404 822188.

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