Moorland Waldorf School

Wetland Project

It was in September of last year that we began a small wetland restoration project in the grounds of Moorland Waldorf School in Botton. 

The children were excited to be part of this project. They understood that their work of dam building is a vital natural function that would once have been performed in this area by enthusiastic teams of beavers. The children took up the task with appropriate beaver-like enthusiasm!

For the heavier work, we brought in volunteers from the Esk Valley Camphill Community. Many tons of earth were shifted in this manner. It was at times backbreaking work that occupied the entire winter, in the mud and rain (my son recently remarked that the photographs were reminiscent of the Battle of the Somme!).

However, the big news is that the job is finally finished! The final touches were done during the recent “Earth Festival” in Botton , when the dams were completed. The area (approximately 150 m²) was planted with willow, hawthorn, reeds, and various other indigenous aquatic plants.

And then the big moment came, when we redirected a nearby spring into our new wetland area. There had been some nervousness amongst my school colleagues, that this moment might serve to flood the school, which is just a few metres below the new wetland. While my earlier reassurances had only partly mollified them, I am pleased to say that the big moment passed without incident!

The photographs give you an impression of a series of terraced ponds and marshy areas, which we hope will prove to be a rich and diverse wildlife haven into the future.

In ecological terms, tree planting often gets all the press. However, the humble wetlands and marshes are a much-underestimated resource for biodiversity, as Moorland Waldorf School’s children will tell you.

By Mark Barber

(This was first published in the Esk Views publication April 2022)