EcoPark is the Wildlife Trust’s environment centre in Small Heath, East Birmingham. It is a fantastic resource both for the people who live in that area and can access this fantastic space to learn about nature and also for The Trust who run projects and train volunteers there.
Each year thousands of young people are inspired by the wildlife they encounter on their visits there. EcoPark offers opportunities for children in this inner city area to get hands on with nature and discover the wonders of the natural world for the first time. Six local primary schools make regular use of EcoPark, with many more also visiting for one-off sessions, and there are also free activities for families every school holiday funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
EcoPark offers national curriculum-linked environmental education activities to schools across Birmingham and the Black Country. Our environmental education experts can offer sessions from a few hours to a whole day of exciting activities for school classes particularly key stages 1&2. We also offer teacher training in various aspects of environmental education and a comprehensive range of Forest Schools activities. Examples of activities at EcoPark include:
- Minibeast hunts
- Pond dipping
- Natural inspiration through arts and crafts
- Understanding nature and lifecycles
- Growing trees and vegetables
Thanks to funding from People's Postcode Lottery, we also offer fun holiday activities for families and more forest school sessions for school children in term time. Read more about the project here.
If your school is interested in visiting EcoPark, please get in touch. As well as our wide range of standard activities, our skilled staff will be happy to discuss putting together a custom package to suit your needs. We can also arrange activities at your school or a nearby wildlife site. We also offer services for the creation of school nature areas, willow sculptures, greenwood shelters see the practical projects section for more details.
Wildlife at EcoPark
As you would expect from a Wildlife Trust site (although not necessarily one in the middle of such a built up area) EcoPark is full of wildlife. The ponds are home to a large population of frogs and newts with dragonflies buzzing around the surface in the summer and plenty of smaller creatures for the children to discover when pond dipping. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators fill the air in summer thanks to the plentiful flower-rich areas for them to feed on. Minibeasts of every size and shape have all the homes they need to thrive provide a wealth of interest to the most inquisitive minds. Birds from buzzards and sparrowhawks to woodpeckers, long-tailed tits and more common garden birds are all regularly seen around the grounds or overhead. There is everything you could want to get your children inspired by nature here.
If you are looking to teach your children about habitats, EcoPark is the place to come. For such a small site, it has an amazing array of different habitats, which is why it can support so much wildlife.
It has a number of fantastic ponds. The largest one was created in 1997 and supports a tremendous range of wildlife, including frogs, toads and newts and even sticklebacks! The pond collects rainwater from the rest of the site, and excess water can be pumped to storage at the top of the site for watering plants or filling the smaller ponds. The pumps are powered by electricity from the wind and solar generators. The smaller ponds are used by schools for pond dipping - there are a number of platforms just above water level to allow this and similar activities to be conducted in safety.
There is a remarkable young woodland, planted on intertwining mounds of soil that were excavated when the ponds were dug. Between the mounds a path winds back and forth, creating the impression of a long walk through mature woodland, despite fitting into a surprisingly small space! The ups and downs of the mounds also create a much wider range of micro-habitats than are found in most planted woodlands, so this is a really good little wood for wildlife. The Growing Local Flora project is helping to add more field layer flora into this woodland, too, so it is becoming more biodiverse all the time.
EcoPark also has a meadow which was created using green hay from a SSSI through the Nature Improvement Area and other areas of grassland, which provide a home to many invertebrates. There is also scrub and even an orchard (yes you CAN pick yourself an apple if you visit in the autumn!) and there are some really wonderful big, old trees all around the site's boundaries.
The EcoPark has many different and exciting demonstration features. There is wind and solar powered energy generation, including a Rutland wind turbine. There is a demonstration wildlife garden, on the scale of a typical suburban garden - complete with a wonderful fig tree that produces a huge harvest of figs each summer. There are reed beds which are used for ecological water treatment.
There are also banks of compost bins, a tree nursery, the famous 'telepole wall' and there are always a variety of new and different activities depending on what our young visitors have been up to in recent weeks.
Growing Local Flora
The EcoPark is also the base for Growing Local Flora, a project that collects wildflower seed from around Birmingham and the Black Country. The seeds are grown on to provide wildflower plants for conservation projects to enhance local woodlands and grasslands. Growing Local Flora is partly supported by the Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area.
Hear Paul Stephenson, who runs the project, talking about it:
The site of the EcoPark was originally tennis courts! It later became allotment gardens and then was occupied by Ashram Acres, an organic vegetable growing project. The Wildlife Trust's original aim was to develop the site as an organic plant nursery with demonstrations of sustainability. It became clear that there was a much greater need for a local resource for environmental and sustainability education in the area. EcoPark was opened by urban wildlife expert and TV wildlife gardener Chris Baines in 1997.
Visit the EcoPark
EcoPark welcomes groups and individuals, but unless there in an event on, these need to be booked in advance. School holiday activities for families need no booking, but remember, they are family activities and parents must remain on site to supervise their children. Volunteer days on Tuesdays are open to anyone, but please contact Paul Stephenson in advance to let him know you’re coming.
Please note that for education, training and structured group activities, there will be a charge. For further information or to book educational or group visits please contact firstname.lastname@example.org call 0121 454 1199.
Directions to the EcoPark
258a Hob Moor Road
The entrance to EcoPark is just to the right of the Starbank School annex on Hob Moor Road.
By Public Transport
There are regular buses (15 & 17) between Hob Moor Road and the City Centre. Ask for the Starbank Road stop on the Hob Moor Road, which is a short way past the entrance to EcoPark.
From elsewhere in the Midlands there are excellent rail & coach links to Birmingham City Centre.
By Car or Bicycle
EcoPark is on the east side of Birmingham City in an area called Small Heath. Coming from the inner ring road take the A45 and following signs to Heybarnes Circus roundabout, look for ASDA. If you are travelling from further away, take the M42 and leave at Junction 6 (Birmingham Airport junction), then follow the A45 into the City to Heybarnes Circus roundabout then follow Heybarnes Road north to the roundabout on Hob Moor Road, where you turn left.