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Girl with a water boatman (c) Nicholas Cottrell WWT
13 Mar 2012

£300,000 initiative to turn school grounds into wildlife oases

Posted in All

Sustainable drainage systems improve the environment and help students learn

Thousands of pounds funding has been announced to adapt school buildings and grounds to soak up rainfall and create wildlife-rich wetlands that mimic the natural water cycle and help to improve streams in an area of North London.

Girl with a snailTen schools will be selected to work with water and wildlife experts to create features such as interconnected ponds, reedbeds and living green walls and roofs.

Pupils will get involved with the design and, once built, the wildlife-rich wetlands will be outside spaces for learning about real-life science.

By storing more rainwater within these features, the schools will act like sponges, slowing the flow of water to the Pymmes Brook – the stream that runs through the area. Besides supporting a wide range of wildlife, the features will improve the health of the Pymmes Brook by filtering pollution, dirt and debris.

Project coordinator Sue Pritchard is experienced in the principles behind the project. She said:

“I’ve worked in Australia where water scarcity is the norm. Ideas that are commonplace over there, like rain gardening and sustainable drainage systems, are just starting to hit the mainstream here now.

“It really is the technology of the future – simple, natural solutions to environmental problems. Pupils in the Pymmes Brook area are among the first to get the chance to learn from it. It’s a really exciting opportunity and it’s totally free, so I recommend that anyone who is interested get in touch to see if their school is eligible.”

Girl filling watering can from a water buttFunding is available to primary and secondary schools within the water catchment for Pymmes Brook. Schools are invited to submit expressions of interest.

The SuDS for Schools scheme is a partnership between the Environment Agency, Thames Water and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). The term Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) covers all ways of managing rainwater by mimicking natural processes. They slow down the flow of water once it hits our roofs and the ground and filter out pollution by catching it in the roots and stems of water-loving plants. The result is that rainwater reaches our streams more slowly, lowering the risk of flooding, and cleaner than if it had run straight down the drain.

New laws encourage the use of the SuDS approach in all new developments. The benefits are particularly useful in built up areas.

To find out more visit the project page.
Girl with a water boatman (c) Nicholas Cottrell WWT