UWE celebrates forests at Bristol Festival of Nature

Issue date: 15 June 2011

Festival of Nature

Festival of Nature 18-19 June Bristol Harbourside

Children can find out ‘who eats who' in the forest when scientists and students from the University of the West of England offer activities based on the theme of trees at this year's Bristol Festival of Nature.

UWE's forest-inspired activities celebrate the fact that 2011 is the International Year of the Forest. The Bristol Festival of Nature takes place during the weekend of 18-19 June on Bristol's Harbourside.

The festival is all about celebrating the natural world and the importance of sustainability. It also represents an opportunity for UWE staff and students to engage with the local community and the wider region in a meaningful way.

UWE is putting on hands-on activities for schools on Friday 17 June which will include:

  • Forest food web – who eats who in the forest
  • Microscopy – stereo and light microscopes looking at natural specimens, mostly from trees, including leaves, bark, flowers and pests
  • Products we get from trees

In addition, at the weekend UWE scientists and research students will showcase UWE research such as the medicinal properties of plants, biology inspired by nature and planet plankton. The forest-based activities (such as the Wood Wide Web) will also be on show in the UWE tent, and outside there will be a wildlife garden and art activities.

Darren Reynolds from UWE who is helping to organise this year's event, said, “We are really excited to be part of this year's Festival. It gives us the chance to discuss the natural world and its importance with the people of Bristol. In previous years the visitors have always made this event special, you get to chat to families and people from all walks of life - it's a great learning experience.

“The schools day is fantastic, although incredibly busy with more than 500 children! It is brilliant to see how enthusiastic and inquisitive children are about the natural world. At the weekend we have many researchers showcasing some of their research. Events like these are incredibly important for us as we feel it's up to us to ensure that people are more aware of what research goes on in the University and its relevance to solving real problems that most people can relate to. It's a great family occasion and all that is left to organise now is the weather!”

The theme of this year's Festival is ‘Have a wild weekend in Bristol this summer'. The Festival has just been awarded ‘Bristol Event of the Year' in the 2011 Tourism and Hospitality Awards, after a tight race with finalists including the Balloon Fiesta.

The biggest event of its kind in the UK, the Festival gives wildlife enthusiasts of all ages the opportunity to explore, enjoy and get close to the natural world – all free of charge.

Throughout the weekend there are loads of free and exciting activities including free IMAX screenings, inspiration for contemporary sustainable living, the latest BBC wildlife films, talks from wildlife and sustainability experts, eco-sculptures, storytelling and a food market featuring sustainable traders from across the South West.

UWE is a member of the Bristol Natural History Consortium which organises the Festival. Director Savita Custead said, “Bristol is the wildlife capital of the UK and the Festival of Nature a much loved date in its summer diary. We're thrilled to be named Bristol's Best Event in the recent Tourism Awards, and will be pulling out all the stops to make sure that this is the best Festival yet!

“The Festival is bigger and better than ever – with loads of free hands-on fun for kids of all ages. You can even pick the brains of our friendly wildlife experts and spot some natural celebrities.”

More information is available on the Festival of Nature website at www.festivalofnature.org

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