News Article12/07/2021

Popular Poole school bird boats set to return

Our popular school environmental education program is set to return this winter after COVID prevented the project from taking place last year. The School Bird Boat project, run by us, Birds of Poole Harbour, will start taking school children from around the Poole Harbour area out on boat trips this coming winter, teaching them about the importance of their local environment and the role the harbour plays in peoples day to day lives.

The trips, which will be funded by Poole based business LUSH this year, have been organised and hosted by Birds of Poole Harbour for nearly 10 years and sees on average 1200 local school children benefit from the project each year.

Poole Harbour is a nationally and internationally important site for winter birds with up to 25,000 waders and wildfowl taking refuge in the large, sheltered, shallow harbour. During the peak of the winter up to 1200 Avocet, 2500 Black-tailed Godwit, 5000 Wigeon and 50 Spoonbill all call Poole Harbour home, along with a whole range of other important and unique species.

Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity explained;

“It’s fantastic that we’re able to start organising these trips again. It’s so important that local children get to get out on the water and experience Poole Harbour from this unique perspective. These children will be the harbours custodians in future years, so inspiring them now will hopefully plant the seed and see them want to protect it as they get older. We can’t thank LUSH enough for kindly funding the trips this year, it’s a massive boost as it means we’re able to offer the trips for free, including transport, meaning the schools, the parents or the pupils don’t have to pay a penny towards the project.

The main focus of the trips is to provide school children the opportunity to connect with their local environment, and understand the relationship between how the harbour is managed for nature, but also it’s function and importance for people to earn a living.

Paul added:

“The harbour is vitally important for both wildlife and people, with some of the children’s parents probably working out and around the harbour, whether it be in the fishing industry, for the RNLI, the Marines, the port etc. So highlighting how all this fits together is an important and key message. Plus, it’s likely nearly all the children will use the harbour recreationally over the coming years, so understanding where the sensitive sites are, the impacts different activities have and how to protect the harbour are all crucial topics to discuss”

 The trips, which historically have always been hosted during the winter will run from October 2021 to March 2022 and will focus on the harbours rich winter bird life. However, the Birds of Poole harbour charity are also carrying out a pioneering Osprey reintroduction program in Poole Harbour, looking to restore a population of these incredible birds of prey to the south coast after a 200 year absence, and it’s hoped that the charities schools education work will be able to extend and broaden its focus when Ospreys begin nesting here in the coming years.

Mark Constantine, Lush Co-Founder, MD and bird sound expert comments:

“It’s a privilege to be able to fund this initiative, as we know how important it is that children have good access to nature. As a business our journey started here in Poole, so it’s important to us to be able to have a direct impact on local school children’s environmental education and also the harbours long-term protection”. 

 

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