"Waste of Space" June 2021 [Wild Things]

As part of HIWWT's "Waste of Space" initiative we were looking around the school to identify areas we could enhance for wildlife. We identified two main spaces on our boundary that could be planted up with wildflowers and also managed as wildlife corridors. Our after school wildlife club “Wild Things” voted on these areas to choose one as our Waste of Space project and the landscaping around the staff car park was picked as being the best one to start with. Planting wildflowers here also ties in with our pollinators promise and Hook B-Lines project.

The landscaped area is heavily bark mulched, with patches of ornamental ground cover ivy and native trees to form a screen. The area was created and planted about four years ago as part of a school building expansion, but was literally a waste of space and not used apart from the car park itself. Our first step at making the area better for wildlife was to remove some small areas of bark chipping to seed with wildflowers and to plant some wildflower plugs. I pre dug the area and removed the ivy and its roots ready for Wild Things to plant the plugs. I used some of the hazel and willow branches we had copiced previously to make some 'dibbers' for the children to make holes for the wildflower plugs (It has been our experience that if you give a child a trowel, we will end up with a replica of the Battle of the Somme!). The dibbers were cut and marked to size to make sure the children were able to complete the task with minimal intervention from the adults, so it would be all their own work. The plugs were grouped together in full grown sizes, so the smaller plants were sited in front rather than being smothered by the larger plants and then set the children off to plant the plugs in turn.  If this works well and proves to be manageable for Wild Things, we will extend the wildflower plots to most of the suitable areas around the car park.

We have also added a small ‘beetle pyramid’… a few logs of different widths and lengths part buried vertically to mimic a rotten tree stump. The beetle or log pyramid will encourage beetles (hopefully stag beetles!), other dead wood specialists and their predators, small mammals and birds. We aim to build a larger beetle pyramid close by soon.

Future tasks on this space will be to create Hog-Highways: gaps under or through fences to better enable the movement of animals, especially hedgehogs, and to enhance the whole area as a corridor to connect habitats within the school with the wider environment.