Subject area: Social studies, sciences, literacy
Experiences and outcomes: SOC 2-02a, SOC 2-06a, SOC 2-13a,SOC 2-14a, LIT 2-02a, LIT 2-09a, LIT 2-10a
The aim of this lesson is to find out:
- Why John Muir from Dunbar became one of Scotland's most famous and influential conservationists and has been called the 'father of National Parks'
- Where the National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and public walkways are located in Scotland
- What challenges there are around creating a National Park
- What the benefits of having protected land are
Before you begin, look through the John Muir graphic novel and read the section The Wild Man Who Changed the World, up to page 108, which shows why John Muir became known as 'the founding father of National Parks'. But it's important to note that John Muir wasn't the only individual campaigning for the protection of nature. Find out more about other activists and naturalists working in the 19th century and early 20th century.
Now provide your pupils with copies of the National Parks activity worksheet and read together the background information that explains how Dunbar-born John Muir, at the age of eleven, immigrated with his family to America where he later established the world's first National Park system.
Once you have read this information, show your class the photographs of America and Scotland's national parks in the downloadable PowerPoint presentation.
Then instruct your class to mark where they think the protected areas in Scotland are located on the National Parks worksheet.
Once this activity has been completed ask them to hand in page 3 of their worksheets – mark these maps and provide corrections where needed. Meanwhile your pupils should continue, by working in pairs, to discuss and then list all the pros (e.g. the benefits of having protected land) and cons (e.g. conflicting land use demands) they can think of around setting up a new National Park in Scotland. They should write their answers onto their worksheets.
Hand back their maps and conclude the lesson by asking half the class to read out their cons list and the other half to read out their pros list.
You can expand this work further by getting your class to individually consider the following:
Contemporary link for today
Even though John Muir helped to create the first national parks in the United States, which have brought many benefits, in modern times it has been recognised that these parks have also created wildlife boundaries due to being separated by roads and traffic, which is detrimental to wildlife.
Now discuss this topic in more depth by asking your class the following questions:
- What do we mean by 'natural wild land' in Scotland and do we have any really 'naturally wild land' left?
- If 'wild land' is constantly affected by humans (e.g. through industrial use of trees/woodland, agriculture, etc.), can there still be opportunities for a wide diversity of wildlife in these areas?
- Are gardens, for example, providing a wider diversity of wildlife compared to the mono-culture of a 'wheat field' created to help feed the world?
There is now recognition that there is a need for 'wildlife corridors' between areas that have been specially protected. This has been recognised in Scotland too; for example, the red squirrel (a protected species) requires corridors to be created between beech forests to aid in its continued survival.
They should research and investigate the reasons for national parks in different parts of the world such as England, New Zealand, Kenya or Japan. Do these natural parks have similar issues with wildlife boundaries? Pupils can use the National Parks website(this will open in a new window) to find national parks across the world, and begin to research how and why they have been established.
Reflecting on learning
- Did your pupils know that John Muir's influence still supports conservation work to create protection of the natural environment around the world today?
- Had they considered the pros and cons of creating protected areas to help conserve the natural landscape?
- Do they think society takes care of the natural landscape in the way that it should?
- Do they know where areas of the countryside have been preserved and protected for future generations in Scotland?
- Locate the national parks and some of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest, long-distance pathways, protected parkland and nature reserves on a map of Scotland
- Say why national parks were established around the world and who was instrumental in their original creation
Visit Scotland(this will open in a new window)
Find further information about Scotland's National Parks.
Central Scotland Green Network(this will open in a new window)
For information on how central Scotland is aiming to balance commercial land use and environmental concerns.
Nature Scotland(this will open in a new window)
For information about Sites of Special Scientific Interest.