Designing a Wildlife Area
Almost any land can be converted to a patchwork of vegetation suitable for all sort of projects as long as there is enough enthusiasm for the work. If the school has a playing field or garden, even an edge or corner can provide a useful site. In general, there are two types of site: those where existing features (walls, lawns, shrubberies etc.) can be used, and the sites where there are no features to use. While it is often both possible and preferable to retain existing trees and bushes, it may sometime be best to do away with them in the interest of developing the whole area. For example, one of the best ways to treat a poor, gappy hedge is to cut it to ground level and plant in the large gaps, so that there is uniform vigorous regrowth. Similarly, trees and shrubs which are growing too near walls or which are damaged or diseased are often best removed and replaced with more suitable plants.
Figure 1 shows what can be done using an apparently unpromising site. Despite the veranda being used constantly throughout the day, each of the nest boxes was used successfully in one summer. By planting a few shrubs, making nest boxes in woodwork classes, and having a pond installed, the whole school benefited. Ponds are invaluable teaching resources and every effort should be made to get one established. A small, shallow pond has a lot of interest and need not be a danger, even to the smallest child.
Existing hedges can also be made a focus for development. Similarly, walls, isolated trees and boggy areas can be retained and enhanced. It is best to consider every feature carefully before starting work.