We are lucky at Kinson to have so much land but until recently much of it was covered in dense, shrubby undergrowth and trees and underused. So we decided to develop our woodland to enhance the children's learning by giving them opportunities to learn and explore outdoors. Our plans are ambitious; as well as seating areas for whole classes we want to have wildlife retreats and bird boxes, we want to encourage butterflies and bees and other insects, we have a resident fox and want him to feel happy in his new home. We also want to restore the old pond and make the stream bank accessible so that children can learn about pond life and take part in activities like pond dipping. We will create a woodland path using sleepers and wood chip so children can walk from the playground to the lower end of the woods in all weathers.
Stage 1 - Preparation
During the Autumn and Spring terms we cleared and thinned out the woodland at the top of the field. We removed dense undergrowth, including ivy and brambles, and cut down the many saplings which had self seeded and cleared the area of litter which had been thrown over the school perimeter fencing. This enabled us to access that part of the school grounds for the first time in years and to truly appreciate just how large and beautiful the area is and how good the views from the top of the woodland are too.
Mark Hooper, a local tree surgeon, worked on this part of the project and gave us advice on future maintenance. He also left us logs and branches to be recycled, for example, as seating, and for den building.
We met with the North Bournemouth Rotary Club who gave us some advice on funding. And we met with the Bournemouth Park Rangers who work in Stour Valley Nature Reserve and Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre. They undertook to help us plan the woodland area so that it is properly utilised and so that planting and sculpting of the land is as natural as possible. We want this to be a truly beautiful and conservation friendly area.
Stage 2 - Woodland and Perimeter Fencing
Of course clearing the undergrowth meant we could see just how bad a condition our fencing was in so the next thing we had to do was upgrade this, not just so it looked better but also so that our children can be kept safe. Work on new fencing start just before the May half term and we took the opportunity to replace all of the fencing along our field because this wasn't in very good shape either. We hope everyone will agree the new dark green fencing is very smart.
Also during half term we continued with the undergrowth clearance work and our Site Manager and Caretaker spent quite a number of happy hours clearing ivy and brambles and saplings to open up natural paths under the trees for the children to use. The whole service will be covered in bark; some of you may have seen the deliveries being made and we are please to say these piles of bark have been given to the school free of charge by our community partners.
The fencing will be finished in early June and we can then begin the next stage of development.
By the end of the summer term we hope the whole woodland will be covered in bark flooring and we have seating in place. We also hope that the children have begun to 'decorate' some of the trees with chimes, mobiles and bird boxes - all of course in keeping with conservation principles so made from recycled and natural materials.
Stage 3 - Stream/Pond
We will use the Rangers plans to create distinct areas of flora and learning.
We hope to work with the Rangers to create our pond and take their advice on the best way to access our stream safely. We will seek further funding opportunities.
Clearly there is much work to do but we are looking forward to it. Keep visiting this page so that you can see how we are getting on.
If anyone has any skills or materials or connections which they feel would be helpful, then please do get in touch. The bigger the team the better! Email or phone Sue on 01202 572713 / sue.grey@Bournemouth.gov.uk