Wonder and beauty of South Georgia to be shared with hundreds of thousands of school children through new materials in the 2022 Hanson Box
The South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) has developed a range of new and exciting educational materials about the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands for inclusion in this year’s Hanson Box – an initiative by the Don Hanson Charitable Foundation which donates a box full of fun learning material, activities and lesson plans completely free of charge to 8000 schools in the UK and UK Overseas Territories.
Each year’s box contains a different set of specially crafted resources designed to help teachers inspire their students. For the first time, materials about South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands will be included, thanks to SGHT and the Friends of the British Overseas Territories (FOTBOT). SGHT paid for the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands contents of 5000 of the 8000 boxes, with FOTBOT contributing the remaining 3000.
Six beautifully shot and incredibly engaging short films have been created by writer and film maker Stewart McPherson to sit alongside a booklet and a map of the island as well as two competitions whose winning entries will be displayed on South Georgia. There are also links to download lessons about South Georgia for primary school students developed by teacher Dawn Clements, one of which features the journey of a character called Winona the Whale, to help young children understand the challenges of our marine mammals.
The tiny island of South Georgia is an inspirational place hailed as a beacon of hope in international conservation terms, due to the recovery of its ecosystem. Through the Hanson Box initiative SGHT can tell the island’s remarkable story to engage young people in the wonderful wildlife and conservation work that is taking place there and to encourage them that they can make a difference to environmental outcomes. The films really bring to life this amazing story and include an overview of these sub-Antarctic islands, their bird life, marine mammals and marine life, their history and heritage, and the conservation of wildlife that is turning back the clock on two centuries of human impact. Working with the Hanson Box initiative, SGHT hopes to inspire a new generation of environmental custodians.
SGHT, the Scottish-based charity that has developed the educational materials for the Hanson Boxes, has been working on the island since 2005, in close partnership with the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Its hugely successful Habitat Restoration Project has reversed two centuries of human-induced damage to the island’s wildlife, eradicating the mice and rats that arrived as stowaways on sealing and whaling vessels from the late 18th century onwards that preyed on ground-nesting and burrowing birds. As a result, millions of birds reclaimed their ancestral home when South Georgia was declared rodent-free in May 2018 – the largest invasive species eradication in the world.
Stewart McPherson, whose generosity and talent created the wonderful booklet, films, printed lesson plans and competitions for the box said: ‘South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are as captivating as they are important in terms of international conservation. That is why it has been a pleasure to work on such an exciting project which brings together such a wealth of information, which I hope will inspire young people to a greater understanding and wonder of our natural world and in particular the importance of these tiny islands.’
Alison Neil, Chief Executive of SGHT, said: ‘The work of SGHT focuses on the conservation of South Georgia’s heritage and helping to change the habitat there for the better. The opportunity to have materials included in the Hanson Box is incredible as we are delighted to share the wonder of this special place and hopefully encourage young people to get inspired about our natural world using the fantastic turnaround in South Georgia’s fortunes in recent years.’
Andrew Fox and Simon Leary, Trustees of the Don Hanson Charitable Foundation, said: ‘We are delighted to work together with SGHT to donate high quality, educational resources to 8,000 schools across the UK. As hyper-concentrated breeding sites for tens of millions of seabirds and marine mammals which migrate across the Southern Ocean, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are of global importance. The South Georgia resource pack included in the latest Hanson Box is intended to inspire the interests of British students in this history, wildlife and landscapes of this fascinating UK Overseas Territory, as well as showcasing the inspiring work undertaken by the SGHT and the GSGSSI to safeguard these islands for the future.’
The specially created films can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8URLzDWi0M&list=PLQ_Dgt2f4Ly-MQ_pnkcxu8qzIPn1LAZ_P