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DfE backs digital mapping of school grounds for biodiversity

Biodiversity app on smartphone
Image source: Esri UK

The Department for Education (DfE) is backing a project to digitally map the grounds of every school in England as part of its National Education Nature Park programme.

It has published details of a partnership between geographic information software provider Esri, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Royal Society, Learning through Landscapes, Manchester Metropolitan University and others to devise digital tools for children and young people.

These will include mobile apps that enable them to map the biodiversity of their school grounds to monitor progress and help pupils develop capabilities in mapping, data visualisation, analysis, numeracy and spatial awareness.

It will also support efforts to create pollinator-friendly habitats in which biodiversity can thrive in the grounds.

In addition, the Natural History Museum will create an online hub of information, guidance and teaching resources to support school classes.

Transforming education space

Dr Doug Gurr, the museum’s director, said: “Combating biodiversity loss by supporting children and young people in England to transform their education space for wildlife will be a significant step in addressing the planetary emergency as well as empowering young people to take action, connect with nature and become advocates for the planet.”

Stuart Bonthrone, managing director of Esri UK, commented: “We are delighted to be working with the Department for Education on the National Education Nature Park initiative.

“Biodiversity and environmental sustainability are at the heart of much of the work that Esri UK and our customers are involved in globally and we have a longstanding commitment to education, providing our software free to schools in the UK and around the world.”                               

Plans for the National Education Park first emerged at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow last year.

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