Children go wild to protect Norfolk coast’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Northrepps forest school hopes to teach children how to protect the environment around them. Picture

Northrepps forest school hopes to teach children how to protect the environment around them. Picture: KATE DOUGAN - Credit: KATE DOUGAN

Schoolchildren are being encouraged to go wild to protect one of the county's best known beauty spots.

The Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty's Sustainable Development Fund is this year supporting five projects, with grants worth a total of £31,600, to transform and protect the coast – four of which are in schools.

Northrepps Primary is working closely with their parish council to create a 'community wild space' with the cash, Sidestrand Hall School has plans to create a sensory garden for its students, Sedgeford Primary is adapting its vegetable garden to enable pupils of all abilities to use it, while Bacton Primary is developing a 'sea sanctuary' themed allotment and wildlife garden from scratch.

In addition, Aylmerton Pond Restoration group has installed a boardwalk and interpretation panel beside their village pond.

Kate Dougan, Norfolk Coast Partnership community officer, who runs the fund, said: 'We have been funding small scale, community-led projects for twelve years, and they have made a real difference to the coast. This year, we are excited to work with these local schools to help children understand and value their local landscape, which is so precious.

'It's a small-is-beautiful approach. Last year we gave out £15,000 in total but the value of the projects was more than double that. We give funding which enables communities to unlock more funding and really get things done and make a difference.

'For instance, last year in South Wootton with just £1,300 the parish council planted over 700 aquatic plants, installed bird and bat boxes and made a valuable link for wildlife, allowing it to move between habitats.'

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The Norfolk Coast Partnership was set up in 1991 to work in partnership with local communities and all relevant organisations to safeguard the special character of the area. It is funded by Natural England, Norfolk County Council, North Norfolk District Council, the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Teresa Dowding, Forest School leader and trainee Early Years teacher at Northrepps Primary, said: 'The project will transform around 180sq metres of derelict, unused space at the rear of the village playing field into an attractive natural space for use by the whole community. A sensory garden, wildflower 'maze', wildlife habitats with bird and hedgehog homes and native plant species are planned to create an outdoor learning site within walking distance from the school, for use by school and pre-school pupils and local residents.

'This is very much a community project. We're working closely with the parish council who owns the land, while pupils, parents and volunteers from the village will be invited to get involved in the creation and enjoy the space for years to come.'

Have an idea to help the coast? The 2017-18 Norfolk Coast Sustainable Development Fund is now open for applications. The closing date is Friday 24th March 2017. For more information see or contact Kate Dougan