2018 - A journey of learning and discovery at Windsor Great Park | The Crown Estate

15 May 2018

A journey of learning and discovery at Windsor Great Park

Our exciting five-year partnership project with Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust is off to a flying start. Local people of all ages are welcoming the chance to get up close and personal with the natural world at our new environmental centre.

Renowned for ancient and veteran trees, Windsor Great Park is home to many rare species of insects and fungi. Our new environmental centre, which opened in January 2018, encourages visitors to care for our incredible park and the wider natural world, taking them on a journey of learning and discovery.

Right in the heart of the Park, the centre has indoor and outdoor learning areas. There are log piles for bug hunting, ponds for pond dipping, a woodland walkway and meadows where children play a pollination game.

In the first few months, over 250 people took part in family events, school workshops and wildlife clubs at the environmental centre, guided by experts from Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. It’s clear that local adults and children are enthusiastic to discover the secrets of the plants and animals that make their home here.

Growing a love of nature

With research by Natural England showing that only one in ten children ever plays in wild places, our environmental centre offers new ways to engage children’s heads, hearts and hands outdoors. There’s a wealth of evidence that people who regularly experience nature tend to feel happier and healthier.

School programmes such as ‘Minibeast Marvels’ and ‘Habitat Safari’ give local youngsters the chance to meet creatures and learn why they love to live in our ponds, meadows and woodlands. On ‘Spectacular Seasons’, pupils gain insights into how plants and animals adapt to their ever-changing environment. On the ‘Intriguing Trees’ trail, they discover different species and how trees provide oxygen, before planting a tree seed of their own.

We’re delighted with the positive feedback from teachers and children. A year two teacher commented: “The children and staff had a brilliant time. They loved being in the woodland and playing all the games. They were also very excited about the acorns they planted.” One pupil described it as “better than Legoland!” and another as “fantastic, amazing and so much fun”.

Inspiring local families

Activities that cater for children and people of all ages are described by participants as “wonderful, well planned, interactive and very child friendly”. One delighted grandparent commented: “It’s brilliant what you are doing; we love the activities and it’s a really beautiful peaceful place.”

‘Nature Tots’ sessions see pre-schoolers, parents, grandparents and carers getting hands on with nature. Seasonal nature discovery, games, storytelling and craft activities have inspired some families to set up bird feeders in their own gardens and make homes for bumblebees, hedgehogs and other creatures.

Wildlife clubs for Young and Teen Rangers give budding naturalists the chance to explore and discover different species living in our Park, learning about the flora and fauna of this special place.  Families say their children return home buzzing, talking about what they’ve learnt and keen to come back. One parent described it as the highlight of their son’s month.

We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership with Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, giving local people and visitors unique opportunities to experience our wonderful wildlife and amazing natural heritage.

Sophie Axford, who leads the Wildlife Trust’s sessions for schools and family events in the Park, said: “Windsor Great Park is a wonderful place for children to discover wildlife because it is a uniquely special place where children can explore and be inspired by nature. They love the trees and discovering places where bugs live.”

To take a wildlife journey of your own, visit our Windsor Great Park environmental centre online.

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