Technology as a gateway to our natural heritage

Technology as a gateway to our natural heritage

Matt Cox, Youth Engagement Officer at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Matt Cox, Youth Engagement Officer at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, shares his views on the importance of engaging young people with their natural heritage and how technology can be a vital tool.

I think figuring out how to present natural heritage in an appealing way for a young audience is an important part of our work for two reasons. Firstly, young people’s contact time with nature is diminishing, and secondly our connection to natural heritage is also under threat as local knowledge fails to get passed down.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust manages more than 60 nature reserves throughout the county accounting for a significant and diverse amount of natural and human heritage. Whether it is Bronze Age burnt mounds, medieval ridge and furrow or veteran trees and former Victorian arboretums, nature reserves represent a unique setting for our heritage that can often be overlooked.

The trust has recently been reviewing the way visitors interact with their surroundings through interpretation materials. Typically these sites have Perspex panels dotted around; presenting various pictures and text relating to features of interest, but technology now provides the option to try out a range of other creative possibilities.

Using technology in interpretation can reduce costs, materials and add meaning, and it can also make local heritage more appealing to a younger audience.

[quote=Matt Cox, Youth Engagement Officer at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust]The involvement of young people is a growing aspect of the work that we do as a wildlife trust.[/quote]

For example, we’re just about to begin a project to create a downloadable audio trail for our Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve.  We’ll be working with young people from the Playbox Theatre who will take on the roles of researchers, writers and performers.

Our previous work with young people on heritage projects has shown that technology can be used as a tool for engaging young volunteers in the projects as well as offer interesting ways of presenting information to the wider public.

The involvement of young people is a growing aspect of the work that we do as a wildlife trust, and something that we consider essential for the wellbeing of our future generations and our past heritage combined.

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