Welsh schools take lead on climate adaptation and biodiversity

A number of Welsh primary, middle and secondary schools are undergoing landscaping treatment to help combat extreme weather events, with experts also teaching pupils about ecology. 

Landscape architecture and civil engineering firm Land Studio is working with institutions across Wales on climate adaptation and biodiversity, in a bid to protect vital infrastructure and spread knowledge about climate change, and the need to safeguard nature. 

Based in Chester, England, the practice has designed a sustainable drainage system for a new £22m school in Powys. The entire Ysgol Cedewain SEN School site is being fitted with the system, which includes rain gardens (swales) wrapping around play areas, which catch surface water and siphon this into planting beds. These will be filled with wildflowers and ornamental grasses, adaptable to drought or flood conditions. Meanwhile, the car park employs permeable paving. 

At another school, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-y-Forwyn school in Ferndale, Rhondda, the RCT Action for Nature Plan has been used as a basis for a new planting strategy. The goal being to champion local biodiversity and and reingorce the existing natural character of the area.

Again, rain gardens are being created, alongside new pond features, grasslands, meadow habitats, bug towers and more. And a third facility, a new primary school in Flint, could see its sloping position adapted to incorporate a series of sensitive draining features, new boundary treatments, wildflower and tree planting. This last project is still subject to planning permission. 

‘We’re working with a growing number of schools across Wales. Our work helps them to combat climate change and reduce flooding while also boosting wellbeing by bringing school children closer to nature and using habitat creation as an educational tool,’ said Simon Richards, founder of Land Studio. 

‘We like to incorporate swales into our scheme because their shallow channels help to capture and manage the runoff of water while also removing pollutants. These rain gardens can wrap around schools and collect surface water while also containing structural meadow planting,’ he continued. Our landscape designs give schools an opportunity to create different spaces in the landscape for learning, play and reflection including outdoor classrooms and seating areas.’




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