Berkshire

First nature centre for Berkshire to open in 2012

Woolly Firs estate
Image caption An 18th century Grade II-listed stables will be converted into classrooms and a museum

Berkshire's first environmental education centre will open in 2012, with Grade II listed stables converted into classrooms and a museum.

The £1.5m development, on the Woolly Firs estate in Maidenhead Thicket, is the Berkshire base of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust.

It will include a "bat cave", pond, arboretum, and possibly a winter home, or hibernaculum, for newts.

The nature centre will be open to visitors by prior arrangement only.

BBOWT spokeswoman Wendy Tobitt said that the centre will be an "outdoor classroom" for children studying various school subjects.

"The idea is that we really focus on schools in Berkshire who want to come outside.

Image caption Children will be able to see the brown long-eared bat

"They can do science, geography, art but we can also introduce them to barn owls, bats, newts and worms."

The roof of the 18th century barn already has bats living there, so the redevelopment will enable children to study them.

The money has been raised from donations to the wildlife trust and work has already started on the barn.

"One of our basic objectives of being a wildlife trust is to help more people have a better understanding about wildlife," said Ms Tobitt.

"Too many of us remember taking nature to school on a Monday and putting it on a 'nature table' in the corner - this is a nature table made large."

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