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Lessons in leaky dams get top marks from children

How leaky dams are helping to reduce the risk of flooding

The next generation take climate action through building a series of leaky dams on Chailey Common as part of lessons in natural flood management.

Organised by the Sussex Flow Initiative, a partnership including Lewes District Council and Sussex Wildlife Trust, the students from across different year groups from Chailey School learned how leaky dams are helping to reduce the risk of flooding by slowing the flow of water and storing it in pools during periods of heavy and prolonged rainfall.

Among the many responses received from the students, one said, ‘I really enjoyed building the dams on Chailey Common because I got to improve my skills in conservation and dam building. I learnt that cutting the silver birch helps the heather to grow. I also learnt that the Sphagnum moss that grows on the common is very rare in the South of England and absorbs lots of the water which collects there.’

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: “Seeing the students gain an understanding of how nature-based solutions and how harnessing natural resources can help communities mitigate the impact of flooding, is so encouraging for our ongoing efforts to address the effects of the climate crisis.

“A big thank you to Chailey School for supporting these important learning opportunities.”

Some of the other children’s comments include, ‘building the dams was very good, especially working with the lap saws and axes. It was an amazing day and I would definitely like to do it again’,  ‘we sharpened stakes with an axe then built up the dam and saw the water level change throughout the day’ and ‘I learnt that Sphagnum moss grows on the common and is very rare in the South of England, it can absorb a lot of water’.

Tim Dudgeon, Assistant Headteacher at Chailey School, said: “These experiences outside the classroom are really important for young people, and particularly so when it concerns their local environment and how they can play an active part in sustainability. We look forward to continuing very fruitful project work with Sussex Wildlife Trust - many thanks to them for providing such wonderful opportunities.”

Published on January 3, 2023