This urban oasis is an education
ADAM Moolna is the Forest Schools communications officer for the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. Here he gives his first impressions of one of the region’s wonderful urban nature reserves, just a mile from Manchester city centre.
Driving through the housing estates of Moston, you might not expect to find a nature reserve nestling in all of this humanity. But at Moston Fairway, tucked alongside the railway line heading into town from Moston station, that’s exactly what I found when I joined our Forest Schools team.
This part-flooded site of a former railway sidings has been colonised by nature and is now, remarkably, home to marsh plants and wildlife not found for many miles around. On a summer’s walk you will see, for example, the grassland areas carpeted with kidney vetch, clusters of small yellow flowers sitting atop little woolly cushions.
The birdsong is constant and you’re likely to see reed bunting, linnet, kestrel and snipe. Butterflies and moths are everywhere, with brown hawker dragonfly and the common blue damselfly among the other colourful insects to look out for.
The Wildlife Trust’s work involves volunteers creating wildlife habitat and making this oasis accessible for local people who have fallen in love with the site – and, in some cases, fallen in love on the site!
As part of that work, Moston Fairway has been chosen to pioneer the expansion of Forest School activity in a national project funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
The Forest Schools movement is about outdoor education and play using woodland environments.
It allows children to develop a relationship with the natural world and boosts their resilience, creativity and confidence. As your local Wildlife Trust, we’ve been at the forefront of Forest Schools in the north west for more than seven years.
Our friends at Broadhurst Primary School have been using our Moston Fairway site as an outdoor Forest School learning area for the last 18 months.
With the award of more than £50k from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are now working with Broadhurst Primary and three further primary schools to bring that connection with the joys of nature to more children and families.
We’re also improving our outdoor learning venue on Moston Fairway. A second outdoor classroom area has already been put in place by the Friends of Moston Brook working alongside The Wildlife Trust and Moston companies OneFile and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Volunteer and local resident Andrew Fitzman said: “My two-year-old lad is going to grow up playing here so it’s great that local children will love this spot and grow up to protect it just as they learn from it”.
●● Children from Broadhurst Primary working at Moston Fairway in a Forest School run by The Wildlife Trust