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Lochinver Primary School pupils discover rare orchids in Culag woods with Highland countryside rangers

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Lochinver Primary School pupils discovered a scarce orchid in Culag Community Woodland with Highland countryside rangers.

Each week pupils join the rangers to get into the outdoors and learn more about nature. The pupils counted over 500 flowering stems of the Lesser Twayblade growing under the trees.

The small delicate orchid is easily overlooked – unless you have the sharp eyes of the Lochinver school children.

The rare Twayblade orchid found by Lochinver pupils.
The rare Twayblade orchid found by Lochinver pupils.

Senior ranger for north Highlands Andy Summers said: “Opportunities for children to access the natural environment are diminishing, so it is great to see so many schools in the Highlands using the ranger service to get outside.

“All over the country children are spending less time outside due to concerns over safety, traffic, crime and parental worries.

“Modern environments have reduced amounts of open green spaces. It is for these reasons it is so important we take every opportunity to give children access to the natural world. In the Highlands we are lucky because none of the schools are far from some amazing nature.”

High Life Highland’s countryside rangers work with many schools in the Highlands, run public events as well as creating practical conservation projects throughout the region aiming to encourage wildlife, raise awareness and encourage appreciation of the scenery, wildlife and heritage.

Lochinver Primary School pupils with ranger Andy Summers.
Lochinver Primary School pupils with ranger Andy Summers.

Mr Summers added: “Children learn to love nature, and that will hopefully lead to commitment to nature later in life – respecting it, protecting it, restoring it and simply enjoying it. That’s why it’s so important we give all children the chance to experience the natural world when they are young.

"There is evidence that learning outdoors has many benefits for school children. I would say that pupils are more engaged with learning when outdoors, and the majority of teachers see a positive impact on their behaviour. For the pupils of Lochinver these experiences, discovering rare orchids, learning about bird song, finding unusual minibeasts, are the first steps in inspiring self-led or independent adventures and connections with the outdoors.”

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