Thurlton Primary School pupils take part in The Butterfly Project about Norfolk Broads

They are children of the Broads growing up on the doorstep of marshland, reedbeds and rivers.

However, what creeping effects could climate change bring to their area by the time they are adults?

And how might they affect their homes and jobs and what crops are grown?

Youngsters at Thurlton Primary School, near Loddon, were yesterday introduced to The Butterfly Effect, a project being led by 10 schools across the Broads which aims to understand the present and map the future of Britain's largest protected wetland and home to the iconic Swallowtail butterfly.

Through a combination of fun environmental exercises in the classroom and exploring outdoors, it is hoped the youngsters will build a deeper appreciation of the Broads and its possible future over the next few months.

All their work, including imaginative maps of what the Broads might look like in the future, will then go on show in a summer exhibition in Norwich.

Designer Leonora Oppenheim, who is co-ordinating the project sponsored by Anglian Water, Norfolk County Council and the Broads Authority, explained the idea had stemmed from the PhD research of UEA student Paul Munday who had mapped the possible effects of climatic and socio-economic change on the Broads by 2050.

Most Read

Two years ago that had inspired an exhibition at The Forum in Norwich in which the public was invited to consider how the Broads might evolve in the future by placing an icon of a tractor, sailing boat or butterfly – representing farming, tourism and conservation – on a giant map of the area.

Ms Oppenheim said: 'We have no idea what will happen or how things will turn out. We are trying to create a conversation, not answer questions.

'Our aim is to look at climate change through the local environment with local people – it is their future landscape.'

Yesterday's introductory workshop used picture quizzes and colouring-in maps of the waterways to define the characteristics of the Broads and what it meant to live there. In future lessons, pupils would consider such questions as what might have the biggest effect on the Broads: housing development, food production or climate change?

'Our aim is to build much greater general awareness of what is happening without being dogmatic,' she said.

During the project, the children will produce poems as well as drawings, while learning about such issues as the importance of conserving water in the increasing periods of drought climate change is likely to bring.

Thurlton headteacher Simon Cornish said the importance of the topic was shown by the fact that gardens in the village backed on to the marsh, so the potential of increased flooding was a serious issue. He said: 'The children already know about climate change. In terms of the Broads we will be asking what will be the future priorities in terms of employment, conservation or tourism.'

He said the project would give them the chance to build on their outdoor learning by exploring the local Broads landscape.

Rachel Dyson, of Anglian Water, said: 'This is a great opportunity to explain to younger people the astonishing challenges our region will face in the future.

'Climate change and population growth are going to put a huge amount of pressure on this part of the world.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter