Thank you for welcoming us.
We thought it was funny at first when we heard we were going to be visiting a home but we soon realised that a habitat is a home and just as we would never barge into someone’s home uninvited and behave badly, we should do the same here. We did some deep breathing at the edge of the forest to become more aware of our surroundings. Then we entered the magic gate into your home!
We enjoyed walking slowly through the trees – smelling, looking, feeling and discussing the changes in temperature, humidity, plant structure and the environment. There were tall ones and short ones. We thought we got lost and wondered which way to go, but quickly found our path again. The treasure hunt was so much fun! We had to find something young, something old, something dead, something growing, something affected by humans, something affected by animals – this gave us time to explore with all our senses and to look at things really closely.
We found seeds, feathers, snail shells, interesting fungi and lichens. When we got to the stream we went habitat hunting finding places where spiders were nesting, interesting burrows in the stream banks and places were civet and mongoose had come to drink. We saw a yellow frog, a Knysna loerie, a beetle with black spots, a white butterfly and bees. Others found bush-pig tracks and porcupine quills and a tiny nest.
We headed further along the path gazing up at the huge trees and speaking quietly. Many of us had never been in a forest before and we realised how different a forest ecosystem is from the grassland ecosystem where our school is. There were many different colours of green and some of the trees were so big. We noticed how good the soil is because of all the organic material falling and decomposing on the ground. We saw that there is a lot of biodiversity in this place – something we had only heard about in class before. We remembered that it meant “lots of living things”, but seeing for ourselves really helped us understand the difference between ecosystems and what biodiversity really is. They are difficult English words!
At the next big clearing we settled down and closed our eyes, listening to the forest. Sitting quietly on the forest floor we observed the secrets of the forest and wondered what was behind the bushes? We thought about the important part this forest played in our ancestor’s lives, providing trees to build houses. We heard our hearts beating, birds singing, Samango monkeys in the tree tops and felt so happy, safe and peaceful.
On the way back, we returned all the treasures we had picked up to their home – the forest. We did take just a few Cape Chestnut seeds to grow and promise to bring them back to plant one day. We discussed how protected areas such as this forest are needed for the wild animals to live and hide, breed and roam. We all agreed that it is very important.
We had a magical time exploring – discovering and experiencing the ancient forest for ourselves. The fresh, cold water from the spring tasted delicious. We hope you heard us saying thank you when we emerged from the dark forest.
We also want to thank the Midlands Meander Education Project for taking us, the Dargle Conservancy and Midlands Conservancies Forum for raising the money from N3Toll Concession to make it possible. Thank you Katie Robinson and Barend Booysen for taking care of this special forest, we won’t forget our visit.
Love from the Grade 6 and 7 learners at Dargle Primary and Corrie Lynn School
The Dargle Conservancy supports environmental education in our local schools through an annual grant to the Midlands Meander Education Project. This project co-teaches creative and meaningful environmental lessons in schools across the Midlands. Encouraging independent thinking and positive action, wise resource use and creating a deeper connection with nature and each other.
Dargle Primary visited Lemonwood forest on 27 May, and Corrie Lynn Primary visited Kilgobbin forest on 24 June 2015. This is a compilation of the accounts of both excursions. Thanks Shine Murphy and Gugu Zuma for facilitating the trips.