THE CONSERVATION CONUNDRUM!
Designed to support a school trip to Red Funnel Ferries
GEOGRAPHY Key Stage 4
Variants: High Ability students
Human and Physical Geography
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Students will learn about the physical and human characteristics of a specific coastal environment (Southampton Water). They will examine the natural ecosystems and learn how they develop and what they are like. They will consider how humans are using this area, and how human activities may pose a threat to the natural landscape and ecosystems, and they will conduct fieldwork to assess the quality of the environment and the likely threats to it. As a follow-up, they will use an online Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping tool to find out how the area is being protected through various designations, but they will learn to appreciate the difficulties of balancing conservation needs with those of other user groups in and around Southampton Water.
This is a geography resource which engages students with the environment of Southampton Water and the Solent, whilst on their Red Funnel ferry journey across to and/or from the Isle of Wight.
It includes pre-visit, on-site, and post-visit activities. This resource focuses on both the human and physical geography of the area, and specifically looks at how the two interact.
The title of the resource ‘the conservation conundrum’ is the essence of what the resource aims to get across: the importance of the area as both an environmental and economic resource and the issues which arise due to the conflict between the two, and how this might be managed.
Focusing on the saltmarsh and mudflat ecosystems that fringe the estuary, students will learn what these ecosystems are and how they develop, why they are important, what threats exist to their continued survival in this location and how they are being conserved. They will also consider the difficulties of balancing the needs of many different user groups which live around/work/use the area.
The pre-visit activity starts by giving some historical context to the environment along Southampton Water, which was once fringed along its length by mudflats and saltmarshes.
Extensive reclamation of these ecosystems for port development,
industry, residential and recreational developments have led to the
loss of much of the natural ecosystems. As background to the on-site
activities, students then learn about the development and features
of mudflats and saltmarshes and put what they have learnt to the
test through an activity which requires them to add labels in the correct place on a simple diagram. A good animation to help them to understand the role of tidal changes in their formation and features can be found here:
Students then conduct some independent research into why these ecosystems are important, both in terms of a habitat for different types of wildlife, but also in terms of their recreational value and as a method of soft coastal defense.
The on-site activities are simple and straightforward, and reinforce / practice all that students have learnt in the pre-visit tasks. There are five simple tasks, which can be completed in any order as they make their journey across to/from the island, although tasks 4 and 5 must take place at specific times / locations. The first task simply involves them taking some pictures of the mudflats (if these are visible as they are covered at high tide) and saltmarshes. They might also consider taking pictures as evidence of any threats that they observe. Task
2 involves them making a simple labelled field sketch of the saltmarsh. In task 3, they complete a table giving the main threats they think pose a risk to the ecosystems / natural environment of Southampton Water and, importantly, explain how/why they consider each to be a threat.
When nearing Calshot Spit, near the mouth of the estuary, students should ensure that they complete task
4, which requires them to add labels/annotation to an image of the spit to explain how it has formed here
and what it is like. Task 5 is an Environmental Quality Assessment; the aim being to a) learn and practice a commonly used fieldwork technique and b) to help students to investigate how EQ varies along Southampton Water. More able students are encouraged to complete extension activities to present and explain their EQA results, and also to consider the relative strengths and limitations of this technique and how it could be improved.
The aim of the post-visit activity is two-fold; firstly students will gain an appreciation of the differing views of different user groups through the first task. It involves them looking at the different ‘users’ of Southampton Water, and considering how their views and priorities are likely to be different from one another by ranking the ‘diamonds’. This can be done by splitting the class into groups and each group taking a different user, although all students could complete the activity for each different user group. In either case, some good discussion
is necessary for students to fully appreciate the likely issues caused by the differing opinions and needs of different user groups, how this can lead to conflict and present problems for management of the area. For more able students, the concept of ‘sustainability’ could be introduced, i.e. that sustainable management is not only about conserving the environment, but about balancing socio-economic and environmental needs.
Secondly, students will make use of an excellent on-line GIS mapping resource, which can be found here: http://www.magic.gov.uk/. The worksheet gives full instructions on what GIS is, the key features and the basics of using it. However, teachers are advised to familiarize themselves with the maps themselves first as there
are vast amounts of information available in the different layers and students need to focus on a particular section and not get too ‘lost’ in the rest of it! With most groups, especially lower ability students, it would be worth demonstrating the GIS maps and layers to the class before they go off to complete the task. The task itself involves looking into the different conservation designations that are in place around the shores of Southampton Water and finding out what these are, and how they are helping to protect the environment.
Key Skills Practised
Understanding key processes in human and physical geography, and how these interact with one another
Conducting fieldwork by making observations and applying their observations to specific tasks
Carrying out independent research
Using an EQA to assess environmental quality
Using GIS (post-visit activity)
Students will learn what mudflats and saltmarshes are, how they develop, and their key characteristics. They will conduct independent research to find out why these ecosystems are important.
During the Visit
Students complete five tasks while on board the ferry to reinforce their understanding of the key characteristics of saltmarshes, and make observations about potential threats to them, and to also investigate how the environmental quality varies along Southampton Water.
Students consider the different viewpoints of different ‘user groups’, and how these differing opinions and needs can lead to conflict and be difficult to manage. They use GIS mapping and internet research to investigate the ways in which the natural environment of Southampton Water is being managed.
Students will be able to describe and explain what mudflats and saltmarshes are, how they develop over time, and what their key characteristics are. Students will also be able to explain why these ecosystems are important (and therefore why it is important to conserve them). Students will make observations and make judgements about the likely threats to these ecosystems, and will consider the difficulties of balancing the needs of different user groups. Students will complete an EQA and think about how and why environmental quality varies along Southampton Water. Students will learn to use / practise using use GIS mapping and conducting internet research, and will be able to describe and explain the ways in which the natural ecosystems along Southampton Water are being managed.
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This page was last updated on: 01/06/2016