In the past few months Lancing College has been working closely with the charity Butterfly Conservation focusing on the planting of elm trees around the school estate. The project has been run with the aim to protect butterfly species such as the rapidly declining White-letter Hairstreak. The butterfly has experienced over 90% decline in numbers in recent years; this has also been linked to the decrease in numbers of elm trees in Sussex due to the Dutch elm disease, as the Hairstreak caterpillar only feeds on elm.
Volunteers from the College as well as local primary schools, special educational needs schools, scouts groups and students working towards their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award have been involved in various tasks around the 500-acre estate, from planting the elm trees to learning more about this rare butterfly species.
Farm Manager at Lancing College, Jon Hutcheon, said: ‘We already teach our College students about local wildlife and conservation, but this project is allowing us to connect with more young people across a range of ages and from all over Sussex. It is so important to teach the younger generation about the importance of wildlife and the pivotal role they will all play in protecting species like the White-letter Hairstreak in the future.’
Lancing College pupils take advantage of many activities ran at the College Farm during their weekly co-curricular sessions. The Farm aims to educate the younger generation on topics such as conservation and modern farming methods, as well as traditional activities such as hedge laying, coppicing and green wood-working. The Farm hosts educational visits for local primary schools and from special educational needs schools; it also provides work placements for agricultural students and takes part in Open Farm Sunday, a national initiative for local communities.