Study-programme at Tudu study-trail

Programme sheet: Estonian bogs as habitats and the remediation of bogs in the example of the Tudu study trails

Description of the programme’s contents: At the beginning of the programme, the participants will specify their location and write down things they would like to learn about during the upcoming day of study. Thereafter, a very slow-paced walk will take place along the study trail (700 m) at the Tudusoo nature reserve, listening and discussing issues related to bogs and their remediation, and solving tasks they must find on the trail. Participants will see different stages of a drained bog and its remediation on the trail. The trail ends by the Lake Tudu with a break and a meal, if so desired. The number and organisation of activities on the way back from the lake to the bus depends on the weather and the wishes of the participants.

Keywords: the development of a bog, the biota of a bog (bog vegetation as a priority), the importance of bogs and their protection, the remediation of bogs.

The objectives of the programme (depending on the age and interests of the participants). After passing the programme, the student

  1. knows where the Tudu Nature Reserve is and why this reserve is needed
  2. knows how a bog develops and which are the three developmental stages of a bog
  3. can recognise at least five bog plants and knows how people use them for their own wellbeing
  4. knows how to recognise bog remediation and knows what is done in the remediation process
  5. understands why swamps are important
  6. knows what the terms fen, transitional mire, raised bog or bog, bog ridge, bog pool, bog hollow, bog lake mean
  7. knows two stories related to the bog heritage of the Tudu Nature Reserve
  8. learns to form questions about bogs
  9. knows how to calculate the surface of a square and is able to provide a percentage estimate of the coverage of the moss square
  10. interprets landscape changes in the last 60 years on the basis of maps and tree rings

Target group: grades 6–12

Group size: up to 24 persons, recommended about 16 persons

Location: Tudusoo nature reserve, Järvesoo study trail (700 m)

Duration and dates: 2–3 hours, April to October (depending on the weather)

The curriculum has been used in a considerably simplified form with kindergarteners and primary school children. For them, it is appropriate to reconstruct the track to read the ogre texts that are located on the Tudu study trail and seeking games with very simple tasks.

Study programme prepared by: Piret Pungas-Kohv, Estonian Fund for Nature

The specific nature of the learning environment and required equipment: a very warm outfit is required on this study trail, as the pace of movement is very slow. Snacks and a water bottle are helpful during a meal break; those who come to the hiking trail can leave their vehicle in the parking lot. There is a hiking cabin and a dry toilet at the end of the study trail. In essence, this day of studying is more suitable for those participants who love to discuss and who will not mind a slow pace. Essentially, it would be good if the day of study were rather repetitive in nature – i.e. bogs have already been discussed at school and passing through the trail will present the opportunity to hear, see, try out, and analyse previously studied things first hand. Figuratively, this trail is more of a classroom than a hiking trail. This trail is also very well suited for those who have mobility impairments or who use a wheelchair. The perimeter fence will help those with visual impairments reach Lake Tudu as well.

Activities of the study day in more detail:

Time spent per task is approximate: it depends on the group, weather, etc.

General introduction of the instructor and the study day (up to 10 minutes).

Participants are divided into groups and every group gets an A6-sized worksheet with a plastic marker. The complexity of the tasks can be varied by using the set of tasks compiled by the author of the programme on the website of the Estonian Fund for Nature:

  1. Where are we? – an active group activity where each group forms the contour of the Estonian map with rope and marks the location of the Tudu nature serve with a convenient object, e.g. a rock or a pine cone. There is an A4 map of Estonia available for reference. Every group takes a photo of it (about 10 minutes).
  2. Listening task and discussion at the first information point – a reminder of how many bogs there are in Estonia and a brief discussion on how bogs develop. Every group will write down the developmental stages of a bog and prepare a schematic of bog development using natural materials based on the instructor’s descriptions (about 15 minutes).
  3. Active activity – a running game for learning about up to 5 most common bog plants (the alternative is to learn about birds in this way) (about 15 minutes).
  4. Each group writes down the things they want to know about bogs on the plastic-covered worksheet. Questions are answered by the instructor during the study day (about 10 minutes).
  5. The group moves forward by about 20 metres to the second information point, where the instructor describes a fen and the principles of bog remediation (dams, raising the water level, etc.). Participants look for a hidden task that needs to be solved (measuring the width of the dam) (about 10 minutes).
  6. Depending on the interests of the participants, we can discuss amphibians at the second information point and, as an active activity on the trail, make models of the spawn clumps of various species of frogs (about 15 minutes).
  7. We move onto the third information point, where we talk about the bog ridge, the changes in tree growth as a result of drainage, the removal of trees, and landscape changes. Using the texts on information posts for teaching – participants read the texts out loud to each other as dialogues. Participants look for a hidden task that needs to be solved (assessment of landscape changes) (about 10 minutes).
  8. Walking to the fourth information point, the information on plants that was studied in theory at the beginning of the day in the running game is revised (e.g. the possibility to weigh peat moss, taste cranberries in the autumn, etc.) (about 10 minutes).
  9. At the fourth information point, we will discuss windfall and the tornado of 2001 that greatly affected the trees of the Tudu region. Participants look for a hidden task that needs to be solved (searching for the necessary information from the text on the information board; for younger people, e.g. counting the stumps in the surrounding area) (about 10 minutes).
  10. On the way to the fifth information point, the instructor will explain the specific nature of the tree rings of the bog trees and how environmental changes (especially changes in the water level) affect the growth of the trees growing in the bog. As an active activity, the participants count the age of pine and calculate how many years ago the significant changes in the water regime took place in the location where it grew (about 10 minutes).
  11. At the fifth information point, the instructor will introduce the clear raised bog and its specific features. We will discuss various concepts: bog acrotelm, bog hollow, and bog pool. The participants will look for a task around the information post (bodies of water in the swamp) (about 10 minutes).

Walking to the sixth information point on the boardwalk, we will talk about peat – what it is and how it ends up in a bog. As an active activity, the participants look for a hidden task that needs to be solved (calculating the area of a moss square and assessing the moss coverage of the square) (about 10 minutes).

  1. The trail will take us to the Tudu cabin (information points 7–9). There, group work shall commence and as an active activity, they will need to search the surroundings of the cabin for an independent task (looking for answers in the texts of the information boards). Once all of the answers have been found, they will be all reviewed together with the instructor. The instructor will then collect the worksheets and plastic markers and will take photos of the worksheets that will be sent to the teacher accompanying the class. The participants can take a break and eat (about 15 minutes of study, the length of the meal break depends on the wishes of the teacher and the children).
  2. After the meal break, the day of study can be finished after feedback and a walk to the bus (up to 10 minutes) OR with younger participants, a floor game can be played on the open area in front of the cabin (the game describes the Tudusoo Nature Reserve) (about 30 minutes) OR solve a sentence-based jigsaw puzzle that reflects on the importance of swamps.