Innovative idea from Edinburgh primary school takes top prize

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OEC 2016 winnersNow in its third year, the Our Environment competition continues to draw in quality and diverse entries from Scotland’s young people.

Run by Scotland’s Environment Web partners with Young Scot, the competition invites young people between the ages of 6 and 18 to identify an environmental issue and submit their ideas on how they would improve it. We take a closer look at this year’s overall winner.

Successful category winners in the 2016 competition from across Scotland gathered in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 27 October 2016 to celebrate their success, and find out which of them was judged to be the overall winner of the competition and receive the £1,000 top prize.

After an inspirational video message from last year’s winner, Lochdonhead Primary School on Mull, awards host Michael Russell MSP announced Nether Currie Primary School as overall winner for 2016.

A small school based on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Nether Currie Primary is very fortunate to have Muirwood Park on their doorstep. On dry days, the community uses the woodland in the park for cycling, climbing trees, woodland nature trails, exploring the outdoors and learning more about wildlife. There are bat and bird boxes fitted all around the park and it’s home to a large number of birds.

However, on wet days, the entire woodland park becomes quickly flooded as a result of overgrown tree roots which have blocked drainage. This happens every time after a day’s rain and now sadly a large part of the park has become a degraded piece of wasteland.

Nether Currie OEC winners

2016 Our Environment competition overall winners – Nether Currie Primary School.

Pupils from the school’s eco-group spoke to Community Park Officers from Edinburgh Council. Together, they have researched and brainstormed possible solutions for the park in order to ensure the environment can thrive and flourish like it once did.

The only way to stop the flooding completely is by building a brand new drainage system away from the park, but this would be an extremely expensive job. Also, the current conditions have created a habitat for many animals, birds and mini-beasts that can survive in a wet environment.

So they came up with an idea that works with nature, and makes the most of the wet conditions. Their idea is to build a walk board over the area that floods. This would mean that children in community can still continue to go for woodland nature trails even after it has rained.

Pupils also plan to plant wetland plants such as sedges, irises and lilies, and create a small duck pond under the walk board. They hope this will attract even more wildlife such as frogs, ducks and insects into woods.

They also plan to create an information board at the beginning of the paths to inform the community about the plants, insects and animals that live in the area, making their nature trail more enjoyable and valuable. This will also encourage schools in the local area to visit the park on a more regularly.

Stewart Prodger, Chair of the Our Environment partners, said: “I’d like to congratulate all our winners. We were very impressed by the ideas; quality and enthusiasm showed in these entries, which came from across Scotland.”

“I’d particularly like to congratulate Nether Currie Primary. Working with nature to solve an environmental problem and make this park more friendly to humans, bugs and plant life is just the sort of idea we’re glad to support. We hope that the prize money will really help them realise their vision.”

The winners from all the age categories were:

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