Credit: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 

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Brand new Natural History Museum schools programme to create thousands of young urban nature champions

Explore: Urban Nature aims to inspire, inform and empower teachers and students, aged 9-14, to go outdoors and get involved with the nature on their doorsteps

The Natural History Museum is inviting schools across the UK to join its exciting new education programme, Explore: Urban Nature, part of the Museum’s Urban Nature Project, which will provide the next generation with the skills to engage with and protect urban nature.

Leading a coalition of museums and wildlife organisations, the Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project will create an urban nature movement through a UK-wide learning programme for young people, families and schools. A key strand of the project, Explore: Urban Nature, delivered in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation, will provide school children aged 9-14 with exciting opportunities to dig into what urban nature is, what it does, how it's changing, and what they can do to support it.

Director of the Natural History Museum, Doug Gurr says: “When people talk about nature, they often imagine remote wilderness or rolling countryside but there is a fantastic diversity of life in towns and cities. The Natural History Museum is on a mission to create advocates for the planet, and we know that once young people are inspired to engage with the biodiversity around them, they are far more likely to want to want to protect and enhance it.”

Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, lead partner for Explore: Urban Nature adds: “Our Trustees are committed to the natural world at this critical time and Explore: Urban Nature has the potential to be transformative. We hope it will help thousands of teachers ignite a passion for the nature on their doorsteps and thousands of students across the UK form a lifelong connection with the environment - at a time when it has never been more vital to the future of our planet.”

Over the next three years Explore: Urban Nature will involve museums from around the UK connecting teachers and students with their local environment, allowing them to become local experts and kick-starting a conversation about the importance of urban nature and biodiversity. The programme will include teacher training to help develop practical skills for outdoor STEM investigations into urban nature as well as hands-on outdoor museum workshops where students can investigate challenges facing nature in urban areas.

Throughout the three-year programme, museum partners from the Real World Science network will share resources to help students get outdoors, observe nature and ask their own scientific questions. The organisations partnering with the Natural History Museum are:

  • RSPB: Giving Nature a Home in Glasgow in partnership with Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • Great North Museum, Newcastle
  • Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
  • Birmingham Museums Trust
  • Leeds Museums and Galleries
  • Wollaton Hall (Nottingham City Museums and Galleries)
  • National Museum Northern Ireland
  • Dorset Museum
  • Stoke-on-Trent Museums

Natural History Museum ‘Tree-Health’ Competition

To celebrate the official launch of Explore: Urban Nature, schools across the country will take the first steps to observe and monitor the nature closest to home as part of a competition this September. Participating classes will have the opportunity to complete a health check of a local tree looking for evidence of common pests and diseases, using a step-by-step guide provided by the Natural History Museum. Teachers can then submit their students’ observations online and be in with a chance of winning a virtual Q&A session with a Natural History Museum scientist and an exclusive goody bag from the Museum’s gift shop.

It’s easy to get started, and teachers can complete the free tree health check with their classes in around 15 minutes, using the checks as a tool to explore the importance of trees to urban environments close to their school and be part of the urban nature movement.

Sign up to the newsletter and enter the tree health competition before 1 October 2021 by visiting




Notes for editors  

Natural History Museum Media contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5654/ (0)779 969 0151 Email:

The Urban Nature Project

Explore: Urban Nature is part of the Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project, designed in response to the urgent need to both monitor and record changes to the UK's urban nature. Working in partnership with museums and wildlife organisations across the UK, the project will develop online, onsite and national monitoring and citizen science programmes as well as transform the Museum’s five-acre gardens in South Kensington into a globally relevant urban nature ‘epicentre’, helping to safeguard nature’s future.

A wide variety of trusts, foundations, companies and individuals are supporting the Urban Nature Project including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Evolution Education Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Cadogan Charity, the Wolfson Foundation, Charles Wilson and Rowena Olegario, Huo Family Foundation (UK), Johnson Matthey, Workman and the Trustees and Executive Board of the Museum.

The Natural History Museum 

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most visited natural history museum in Europe. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.  

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens. The scale of this collection enables researchers from all over the world to document how species have and continue to respond to environmental changes - which is vital in helping predict what might happen in the future and informing future policies and plans to help the planet.  

The Museum’s 300 scientists continue to represent one of the largest groups in the world studying and enabling research into every aspect of the natural world. Their science is contributing critical data to help the global fight to save the future of the planet from the major threats of climate change and biodiversity loss through to finding solutions such as the sustainable extraction of natural resources. 

The Museum uses its enormous global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome over five million visitors each year, our digital output reaches hundreds of thousands of people in over 200 countries each month and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 30 million people in the last 10 years.  

Supporters and sponsors

The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

The Evolution Education Trust 

The Evolution Education Trust helps raise awareness of the importance of the Theory of Evolution by funding impactful projects in the areas of therapeutics, education, conservation and fundamental research.

The Cadogan Charity 

The Cadogan Charity supports communities, contributes to a sustainable environment and protects heritage. It has supported charities involved in animal welfare, education, conservation and the environment, military, medical research and social welfare.

Garfield Weston Foundation - lead partner for Explore: Urban Nature

Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK and, in the most recent financial year, gave over £98million as the Trustees were highly conscious of the challenges presented by Covid-19 to the charitable sector. Since it was established, it has exceeded donations of more than £1billion, of which well over half has been given in the past ten years.

One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown, so too have the charitable donations.

Known for its transparency, flexibility and straightforward approach, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities from small community organisations to large national institutions. Around 2,000 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.

The Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts. Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 14,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review. Twitter: @wolfsonfdn

The Huo Family Foundation

The Huo Family Foundation is a grant-giving foundation. Its mission is to support education, communities and the pursuit of knowledge.  The Foundation previously supported the Natural History Museum’s ‘ID Trainers for the Future’ project which was a response to the critical and growing shortage of wildlife identification and recording skills in the UK.

Johnson Matthey 

Johnson Matthey is a global leader in science that enables a cleaner and healthier world. With over 200 years of sustained commitment to innovation and technological breakthroughs, we improve the performance, function and safety of our customers’ products and in 2020 we received the London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark, given to companies that derive more than 50% of revenues from environmental solutions. Our science has a global impact in areas such as low emission transport, pharmaceuticals, chemical processing and making the most efficient use of the planet’s natural resources. Today more than 15,000 Johnson Matthey professionals collaborate with our network of customers and partners to make a real difference to the world around us.

Workman LLP

Workman LLP is the UK’s largest independently owned commercial property management and building consultancy firm employing more than 700 staff across 12 UK offices, with a growing presence in Europe. Specialist Property Management and Building Consultancy teams work with a client base which includes leading institutional funds, overseas investors and property companies. What sets Workman apart from the competition is its specialist focus, national coverage and independent status. For further information, visit or to find out more about Workman’s drive to build biodiversity across its managed portfolio, visit