Proactive Conservation

Proactive Conservation

Proactive Conservation


Subject area: 
Literacy, Expressive Arts,
RME, Health and Wellbeing,

Experiences and Outcomes:
Soc 3 – 08a, Eng 3 – 27a,
Lit 3 – 16a, Lit 3 – 02a,
Lit 3 – 09a, ExA 2 -05,
Exa 3 – 14a, HWB 3 – 13a,
HWB 3 – 13a, SCN 4 – 01a,
RME 3 – 05b

The aim of this lesson is to:

  • Explore why legislation is needed to help protect the natural environment 
  • Understand there are conflicting demands around how land is used and the different sorts of impact this has on wildlife 
  • Know what you can do to help

Before you begin ask your class to look through the section The Wild Man Who Changed the World from the John Muir graphic novel that shows what John Muir became passionate about:

‘Now I was passionate about making people see why we must protect our planet. It would be the greatest work of my life.

John Muir: Let children walk with nature, in woods and meadows, plains and mountains... Our bodies were made to thrive where pure air is found.

But in summer, the mountain wilderness was noisy, the air black with fire smoke, as loggers cleared and felled the trees. I began my campaign to protect America’s forests.

John Muir: A forest of 3,000¬year-old giants – all gone in a moment. Oh, the wrongs done to trees!

I wrote to the American people about the destruction of their forests. Though nervous, I gave many public talks. The people listened and they forced the politicians to act – before it was too late.

John Muir: Save our forests or we’ll have none left!

Crowd: Defend the trees!’

Now split your pupils into pairs and provide them with copies of the Proactive Conservation Pupil Activity Worksheet and ask them to create a list of the different types of land use in Scotland, under the following headings:

  • Energy
  • Food
  • Transport
  • Shelter
  • Waste

Then organise the pairs into groups of four and ask them to share their lists and discuss ‘the conflicting demands of our Scottish society on land use’ today.

Explain that when John Muir was alive he became an environmental campaigner and created strong opposition to the building of the Hetch Hetchy dam in Yosemite and ask your groups to discuss this and list all the reasons why they think it would be a good idea for a dam to be built and all the reasons against it. They should note their thoughts down on the Proactive Conservation Pupil Activity Worksheet.

Contemporary link for today

Now get the groups to list some leisure/sport activities that take place in the natural environment in Scotland. Then let the groups discuss how they would answer the following questions. Each group should note down their group’s key points on their worksheets proactive conservation activity:

  • What do we mean by the natural environment in Scotland?
  • How do we share access to the natural environment? Who should get more or less access to the land in Scotland and why?
  • What does conservation mean and how does it work?
  • Why does the natural environment need protecting? 
  • What are the threats to Scotland’s natural environment today?
  • What do we mean by legislation and why do you think it is required?
  • What does an environmental campaigner/ writer, do?

Once they have finished discussing their answers to the above questions each group should nominate a spokes person to share their group’s thoughts with the rest of the class.

When all the class have heard each others’ thoughts, explain that John Muir became an environmental writer and campaigner later in his life, and founded the Sierra Club, which became a powerful environmental lobbying group. He said, about this club, “I am hoping that we will be able to do something for wildness and make the mountains glad.”

Now lead a discussion with your whole class to explore the following suggestions in relation to what they could all, or individually, get involved in, to help the natural environment.

Things that your class could do to help the natural environment in Scotland Things we will commit to (tick)
Set up and/or participate in an Eco-Schools group   
Research a controversial, local planning issue that impacts on wild life and write letters to your MSP, local council representative or wild life charity sharing your thoughts   
Prepare a script for a video documentary film about conservation work in Scotland, make the film and show it on Youtube  
Write an article for your school magazine – to encourage others to be pro active in relation to conservation issue. Explain why we need to put in place protective measures in relation to our natural world and how they can get involved to help with this  
Create posters to encourage rubbish recycling, reducing food waste, becoming more energy efficient and demonstrate how they will do these things themselves too!  
Take part in  activities such as ‘gorilla greening’  where for example you  create and disperse ‘Wild flower seed bombs’  
Take part in and complete a John Muir Award and/or ‘John Muir: Mission Explore’ activity  
Create a new natural play area in your school grounds or local park with support  from ‘Grounds for Learning’  
Create a new invention or modify an existing invention so that it is more environmentally friendly  


Things we could do to help the natural environment in Scotland - add your own ideas here

Things we will commit to (tick)

Now create and display a ‘Commitments Chart’ to hang on the wall in your classroom detailing all the things your class are going to do. Follow up their ideas as further work.

Reflecting on learning

  • Had your pupils considered how they (and other people) make use of the natural landscape?
  • Do your pupils care about their school/local/national environment? 
  • Do they take care of the natural landscape?
  • Can they do anything to ensure the countryside/ wild life is preserved for the future?
  • Do the pupils and teachers in your school think about how they live their lives? Are they wasteful? Do they recycle?

Learners can:

  • Identify different types of land use
  • Discuss the environmental impact of human activity on the landscape
  • Understand different and conflicting demands around land use balanced with the needs of society and how that’s resulting in differing levels of impact on the natural environment
  • Recognise why legislation is required to help protect the natural environment 
  • Identify what they can do to help by suggesting ways that we can all be more environmentally responsible
  • Apply a variety of approaches including, for example, creating a campaign using different communication mediums such as letter writing, participating in an eco – schools group committee, preparing a newspaper report or writing a script for a video documentary film about conservation work in Scotland.

Further work/useful resources

Eco-schools Scotland
For more ideas and activities to use with this section consider setting up your classes own Eco committee.

Guerrilla Gardening
A blog about a London based group who have established green spaces in urban environments

Grounds for Learning Scotland (GFL)
The suggested activities on this web site provide in directed learning approaches.

The John Muir Award
Use the information on this web site to find out about the Award.

189.36 KB