STUDENTS at Seaford College are helping to create a wildlife corridor in historic Petworth Park.
Pupils in Years 10 and 11 have joined park manager Gary Liddle on a long-term project to create a corridor 20 metres either side of a medieval road that used to be the main route into Chichester.
The work consists initially of planting 1,400 ‘whips’ that will attract different forms of wildlife.
The whips consist of a mix of traditional English broadleaf trees such as blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, field maple, hornbean and beech which blossom early and attract insects and bats.
Cover will also be provided for nesting birds and it is hoped that over time, dormice will re-establish themselves.
Over the course of the afternoon the students, who are part of Seaford College’s community programme, managed to plant more than 130 whips.
The students were split into groups of three, with a Year 11 student who is part of the group restoring a kitchen and cottage garden at Petworth House acting as supervisor to two Year 10 students who were landscaping for the first time.
Gary Liddle began the session by outlining the aims of the project and then gave a demonstration of how to plant.
“The students took to the task very quickly,” said Gary.
“They planted the whips correctly and I was very pleased with what they had achieved by the end of the afternoon.
“The Year 11 students, whom I know from the garden project, were impressive by the way in which they took charge of their less-experienced peers.”
Lucy Brown, a Year 10 student who lives in France, was really getting stuck into the planting and particularly at home with the task.
“I’ve done this before,” she told the Observer. “Where I live in France, I’ve helped neighbours to put an orchard in.
“This project is great because what we’re doing now in Petworth Park will be around in centuries to come.”
The experience gained during the afternoon could also be related back to the classroom.
On many occasions, finding stone just below the surface, students could see why downland was better for grazing than for arable farming, and that bats would adjust their flightlines to follow the insects.