West Buckland Wins Pledge for Nature Award for Environmental Work

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West Buckland School’s WEBS (West Buckland Ecology and Biodiversity) group has won the 2021 UNESCO North Devon Biosphere Pledge for Nature award. The award recognizes her work in raising awareness of ecology and sustainability in the school, including developing wildflower meadows and planting more than 500 trees over the past two years.

The Pledge for Nature, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, aims to support natural recovery throughout North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere. The group consists of sixth graders under the watchful eye of Principal of Biology Noah Shawcross. They formed the group to try to encourage a high level of biodiversity on the school’s stunning 90-acre campus, while also educating other students about the need to protect our environment. This year the school created its first ever Environmental Prefects who help guide the school’s work on biodiversity and sustainability.

Headmaster Phillip Stapleton is very proud of the group’s achievements: “Since its inception, WEBS has seen perceptions and behavioral changes in the school and in relation to biodiversity on campus. Single-use plastic has been virtually eliminated on-site, the school cafe now sells healthier food with less plastic, and the school has placed more recycling bins on campus to encourage students to recycle.

“Members of WEBS have held meetings with the Treasury Officer, Senior Leadership Team and Governors on several occasions to see where the school could reduce greenhouse gases and a second biomass boiler is currently being installed meaning that now virtually all heating the school functions from this source.”

To kick off their initiative, they asked Joseph Witchall, the school’s artist-in-residence, to design a logo before presenting their goals to the leadership team and principals. These included improving the biodiversity of the school campus; reducing food and packaging waste; Reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the school and surveying students to find out their attitudes towards waste and sustainable eating, as well as leading meetings to promote better stewardship of our environment.

In consultation with the school’s principal, Baz Norden, two wildflower meadows were developed by the group, which enlisted the help of students from Prep School through Year 9 to bring the wildflowers from seed into their classrooms.

At a recent open house, members of WEBS worked with the arts department to help create seed bombs using seeds collected from the wildflower meadow, and at a recent staff training session on biodiversity and sustainability, all staff received a homemade packet of wildflower seeds.

Both projects were inspired by the Moor Meadows Project, a community initiative whose members are interested in preserving, restoring and creating wildflower meadows, from a meadow in the garden to many acres in the countryside.

All ages within the school were involved in the tree planting, including the seventh graders who did the work as part of their John Muir Awards, as well as the preschoolers.

The trees were kindly donated by the Woodland Trust and are part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project marking the Platinum Jubilee.

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