Teaching resources

Habitat creation and maintenance

by Fellowship Agency May 26, 2017

Perfect for the dark, secluded corners of your school grounds, creating minibeast habitats is simple and your students will love exploring them.

Habitat creation and maintenance

Using logs, twigs and leaf mould/litter, choose a site that is both well-shaded and damp to create your habitat piles. Pick a secluded spot with as little foot traffic as possible. Under tree canopies where the grass doesn’t grow is a good place, just make sure the branches are high enough to be out of the way of pupils and teachers. Alternative sites would be shady hedge bottoms or along north facing school field boundaries (remove any turf first). It’s always a good idea to let your groundkeeper(s) know what you are doing. To increase hiding places further, drill some holes into the bigger logs, they’ll be perfect for solitary bees. If you don’t have any logs, old scaffolding planks, carpet pieces, old sacking or wooden pallets will do just as nicely. They just need to be large and heavy enough to compress the soil.

Top Tip – Make sure your chosen site is free of nettles all year round.

Dig a shallow pit slightly larger than each log, to stop them rolling away. Put your largest items down first, and then smaller items and leaf mould/litter on top. Don’t stack them high, they could tumble down onto toes – wider ground coverage is better than height.

Top Tip – Cut logs in half lengthways, and place the flat sides down on the ground – the more surface area you can provide for your minibeasts to hide under, the better!

Chat to your local tree surgeons and see if they have any rotten wood stumps they could give you, they have no real financial value but would be great for your habitats.

Make five or six log piles per habitat zone, so you can split your students into groups of four to five to work on them.

If you can create more than one site then you will be able to do comparisons and rotate use of the areas to let the minibeasts recover.

Leave your piles for as long as possible before first use to let them colonise, and do not disturb them between supervised lessons. Top them up with logs or brash as and when you can.