This relaxed half-day course offers complete beginners an introduction to the most common plants and animals that can be found in a mixed UK woodland. The trees give any woodland its basic structure, and we will learn to recognise a few common conifers and broadleaved trees. Smaller plants grow beneath the tree canopy, on the woodland floor; the density of the canopy above, and the quality of the soil beneath will determine exactly which species survive in this lower layer of vegetation. Between them, these trees and the smaller plants provide food and shelter for an impressive range of animal life, including woodlice, slugs, beetles, mice, squirrels, rabbits, badgers, deer, foxes and a huge variety of birds.

Participants will be led on a gentle stroll through the woods at Mop End. We will stop regularly along the way to learn how to recognise various plants, and to talk about how they are used by the animal life in the woodland. We will talk about food chains and the role that each species plays in the life of the woodland. Participants will learn to recognise woodland of different ages, and we will hunt for ‘animal evidence’ along the way.

Walking Levels information

Tutor: Dr Karen Van Oostrum

Karen has a love of plants and the environment, and enjoys sharing this with others, through courses and guided walks. A Biology graduate of Oxford University with a Ph. D. in wheat genetics, Karen was Head of Education at Cambridge University Botanic Garden from 2006 – 2012 and has worked with people of many ages from diverse backgrounds. Self-employed since 2013, Karen writes and delivers introductory courses in Botany, hosts school visits at her local Field Studies Council Centre, and supports the teaching of plant science in Primary Schools through INSET and pupil workshops. Karen volunteers with her local environment group in the Chilterns, leading guided walks and overseeing work parties.

Example Timetable

10:00 – 10:15  Welcome and introductions. Talk through the plan for the morning, including aims and objectives. Brief overview of the history of the woodland at Mop End. Time for toilet stop before walk.

10.15 – 12:15  Woodland walk.

12:15 – 12:30 Return to Field Centre, discussion, and further questions, resources, depart.

What's Included

Before You Attend

What to Bring

This course is entirely based out of doors, so please come appropriately dressed for the weather and bring footwear suitable for walking in the woods. Bring a notepad and pencil if you wish to take notes on the day, although this is optional. You are welcome to take photos throughout. No books are required, but if you have any field guides to plants or animals then do bring them along.

Sorry this course has ended