A Childhood and Nature Survey commissioned by Natural England in 2009 found that less than 10% of 7-11 year olds play in natural places compared to 40% of adults when they were young. Indeed, upon the launch of the Natural Environment White Paper, Caroline Spelman Secretary of Sate said “What I’d really like to see happening as a result of this white paper is more children enjoying nature and continuing that interest into adulthood so they pass that passion for the environment down through the generations. That would be a legacy well worth leaving”.

With this thought in mind the South East Region of BASC, held a Young Shots ‘Conservation Day’ on Friday 8th June 2012, at the ‘Jack Peers’ Study Centre, Great Milton, Oxon.

The day started with a talk about non-native species, and the affect that they can have on the environment. The attendee’s then had the chance to go out and set some traps for the invasive American Signal Crayfish on a nearby river.

The children also learnt about trapping of other pest species and were shown a variety of traps which were kindly brought along by shoot tenant and forester, Mr Mike Ganly. The children learned of the importance of considering both the law and the welfare of target species when setting a trap. Samantha Edwards, BASC’s political affairs officer, then demonstrated how a tunnel trap should be set, with the children having a chance to build their own tunnels.

Mr Ganly also gave a shoot and conservation tour of a nearby covert and explained to everyone the importance of good forestry and the direct link between habitat management and conservation.

Dan Reynolds headed a pond dipping activity, with one group of children identifying up to nine different species. The last job of the day was to go back down to the river to inspect the crayfish traps that were set earlier in the morning. A small harvest of non-native, American Signal Crayfish were caught and these were then taken back to the study centre, were upon everyone had the chance to taste their catch!

Despite some challenging weather that included high winds and ample rain, a good day was had by all.

Our sincere thanks go to Mr Mike Ganly for kindly giving up his time, and also to Mr Charles Peer for allowing us the use of the study centre. For details of further events, please visit the South East diary of our website.

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