Pupils in Glasgow and the Highlands are leading the charge in preserving and revitalising their community ponds, through a new citizen science project specifically for school children! With support from wildlife charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation [ARC], schools, teachers and community groups are taking on the challenge of restoring and monitoring local ponds and their wildlife, creating a vibrant and sustainable environment for both people and nature.

The ‘Champhibians’ project will enable schools to adopt their own school or nearby community pond, and to become citizen scientists; recording the frogs, toads, newts and other animals visiting it. Supported by ARC’s Saving Scotland’s Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAAR) Education Officer and a host of learning resources, each Champhibian School will collect data on these vital pond habitats, contributing to our understanding whilst learning more about their local wildlife. Pupils from Primary to High School level will work alongside local groups, community rangers and charities to revitalize their adopted pond and keep it healthy – and have opportunities to link-up with schools in other areas to compare what they’ve found out. The ‘Champhibians’ project, is being funded by The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust, with contributions from other community funders.

“In addition to being an important educational opportunity for the pupils, the Champhibians project is a way for the local community to come together and take pride in their surroundings. The pupils, with guidance from their teachers, will take on key roles in the project, such as conducting research, creating and implementing a plan, and monitoring their pond’s progress.” Says SSAAR’s Education Officer, Janet Ullman. “Participating schools gain membership of a Scotland-wide citizen science project that enables the school to be part of vital species monitoring linking to the biodiversity element of the Curriculum for Excellence, as well as health and well-being, and enabling wider community engagement. Teachers and classes are supported all the way through by the ARC Champhibian hub page, a teacher’s pack and a visit from the SSAAR Education Officer. The project provides a wonderful opportunity for active outdoor learning after the restrictions of lockdowns and isolation.”

John McKinnell, NatureScot Reptiles and Amphibians Adviser, said: “Ponds are small worlds of life in themselves but also act as a lifeline for a wide range of wildlife, from frogs and toads to newts, dragonflies, birds and more. This project is a great way of engaging young people with their local environment and demonstrating that everyone can take positive action to make a real difference in their community. Citizen science is not only an enjoyable way to make space for nature, but is also crucial to help us understand and improve the state of Scotland’s biodiversity, and the more people get involved in projects like this, the bigger the difference we can make together.”

Champhibians is set to run until autumn 2024. ARC is inviting Primary and High Schools to join the scheme and join in the collaboration of stewardship of their community's natural environment.

For more information please visit ARC’s Champhibians page.