OPAL Survey in focus: Ashley Primary School

Each year OPAL receives a large number of survey forms from people across the UK who have completed one or more of the eight OPAL Surveys. Most of this data reaches us via our online form, but we also receive survey results through the post too. Last week we received a big brown envelope full to the brim with completed Biodiversity Survey forms, these had been sent to us by Year 5 Kestrel Class from Ashley C of E Primary School, Surrey.

Ashley School is recognised as one of the world’s leading eco schools. In 2009 they received the highly acclaimed Ashden award for reducing their energy consumption by over 50% and engaging the whole school community in education for sustainability. In 2012 they were awarded the European Commission funded U4 Energy award for education on energy saving and attended the European Awards Ceremony in Brussels. In December 2013, their Year Six New Leaders in Sustainability expedition to the Alps in Chamonix won the Educational Visits category in the Educational Business awards. Ashley has held ‘Green Flag’ status through Eco Schools for over four years and in 2015 they were one of only nine schools in the country to be awarded Eco School’s Ambassador School position. Wow!

It was really enjoyable to read through and input the data from Kestrel Class. The pupils surveyed the hedgerows surrounding the school and found a wonderful variety of flora and fauna, including a Common frog (Rana temporaria) and one of OPAL’s species quest insects a Devil's Coachhorse (Ocypus olens)– the class named him Jeff.

As Kestrel Class found out, hedges are full of life. They provide homes for mammals, birds, and insects, and act as wildlife corridors so these animals can move safely between different habitats.

Hedgerows are listed as a priority habitat in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). This means that they have been identified as an important habitat and actions are being taken to increase the quantity and quality of hedges in the UK, so that they continue to support a wealth of wildlife. About 130 BAP priority species are significantly associated with hedgerows – these include moths, birds, lichens and fungi. While few of these species are dependent on hedgerows alone, the loss of hedgerows, or a decline in their quality, would be likely to have an adverse effect on their populations.

The data Kestrel Class sent us is important because it will help OPAL scientists to build up a picture of the abundance and quality of hedgerow habitat in the UK and the species they support. If you would like to take part in the Biodiversity survey you can find everything you need here, or why not try our new survey for pollinating insects, Polli:Nation.