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Pre-Degree students promote biodiversity at Poole Farm

Pre-Degree students have embarked upon an exciting project to support biodiversity initiatives as part of the Green Minds initiative, working at Poole Farm in Leigham, the gateway to Derriford Community Park and a pocket of accessible green space in Plymouth.

IBCP Environmental Systems & Societies students visited the farm earlier this month to take part in monitoring of the pond and grassland habitats. Beyond observing, the students have also been invited to help develop the park's Citizen Science programme and to create draft guides for self-led biodiversity surveys.

With over 147 hectares of beautiful natural space to manage, biodiversity is a key indicator of how the land is thriving, but feedback had indicated that past survey guides were difficult and time-consuming to follow. Students have been asked to help create a more user-friendly version that can be utilised by volunteers and anyone attending future events at Poole Farm. The simplified guides should enable any visitors to monitor wildlife at the farm in future, with the results being used to demonstrate how management of the site is impacting biodiversity.

As an Environmental Systems and Societies student, the chance to visit and experience the things that we’re studying hands-on is so important for developing a more thorough understanding.
Phoebe Kerslake, IB Environmental Systems and Societies student
Poole Farm Survey Trip 8

Pre-Degree students learned how to conduct biodiversity surveys at Poole Farm.

The work of the group of students focuses on monitoring butterflies and bees, amphibians, water invertebrates, and reptiles. The feedback from these surveys will inform future decisions around how the site is managed. It will also show how sustainable land management enhances and protects the landscape. Hayley Partridge, Natural Infrastructure Officer for Plymouth City Council explains, “Derriford Community Park is trialling different ways of managing the grasslands, woodlands and watercourses. Citizen science is the perfect opportunity to enable people from all walks of life to see how local wildlife can benefit from this. By working with Plymouth College of Art students, we can create an updated citizen science programme that will be more accessible for families and young people, and vital in monitoring the wildlife surrounding Poole Farm”.

17-year-old Phoebe Kerslake, an IBCP Environmental Systems & Societies and UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Art, Design & Communication student, said: "Working with Poole Farm was really insightful! It was beneficial for both the farm and for me. As an Environmental Systems and Societies student, the chance to visit and experience the things that we’re studying hands-on is so important for developing a more thorough understanding.”

Poole Farm Survey Trip 11

Part of the visit included observation of amphibious creatures.

By working with Plymouth College of Art students, we can create an updated citizen science programme that will be more accessible for families and young people, and vital in monitoring the wildlife surrounding Poole Farm.
Hayley Partridge, Natural Infrastructure Officer for Plymouth City Council

Chris Smith, who leads our Environmental Systems & Societies diploma and acts as Green Minds Coordinator, said: “The students needed to find out about biological field survey techniques firsthand. This collaboration with Poole Farm has enabled students to learn whilst creating something that will be used to help monitor and manage the work Derriford Community Parks are doing for wildlife at the farm, making a meaningful contribution to biodiversity in Plymouth.”

There are plans in place for further student engagement, Chris explained: “Later, we will help to trial the draft survey guides before the format is finalised. Hopefully the next stage will be for this to become a design project for other Plymouth College of Art students to engage with, creating professional quality guides ready for printing and use at the site.

Green Minds Logo CMYK

Green Minds aims to put nature at the heart of our decision making in Plymouth, recognising its role in shaping a healthy future for all.

Natural Infrastructure Officer for Plymouth City Council, Jerry Griffiths says the students brought a fresh approach to developing the guide, “The Environmental Studies students brought creativity and a new perspective to creating citizen science guides and we look forward to working with them again over the next few months to test the survey methods and inspire more people to get involved with the project.”

The IBCP Diploma in Environmental Systems & Societies students are working towards completing the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP) alongside their A-Level equivalent UAL Level 3 Extended Diplomas at our Pre-Degree campus, which could lead the students to end their studies with qualifications that are equivalent to completing nearly four A-Levels. This will set them up to succeed at some of the most competitive universities around the world.

Through Poole Farm, the work that these students do in revamping the guides will form part of a lasting legacy, promoting learning and wellbeing through nature. It’s hoped that a new generation of citizen scientists will use the guides to reconnect with the natural world firsthand. Through the efforts of our Environmental Studies students, visitors will leave the farm understanding a little more about how we all benefit from having high quality, species-rich natural spaces on our doorstep and how we can maintain them for future generations.