photo of forest

The Hive Blog

Big Climate Conversation 2023

The Hive has been running the Big Climate Conversation throughout November, with students from Year 1 to Year 13 at schools and colleges across Waltham Forest. It was hugely uplifting to meet the Eco Ambassadors from 20 different schools, and we extend a big ‘thank you!’ to the schools and colleges that hosted us.  

During the conversation, students learnt about rain gardens and other SuDS (sustainable drainage solutions), which you can find popping up around the borough and beyond. These are important for slowing down the flow of heavy rain into the drainage network to reduce flooding, and have the added benefit of creating pockets of natural habitat, increasing biodiversity. We also discussed climate action and the different ways in which we as individuals, and communities, can actively choose to respond to the climate emergency. Whether it’s commuting via bicycle, or implementing larger changes to consumerism, students engaged in inspiring conversations which empowered others to bring those ideas to their school.  


Do you feel able to take climate action in your school or workplace? What could you do to inspire others to take action?


After considering the activities that take place outside, and the priorities of the whole school community, the majority of students concluded that there were at least some opportunities to create more space for nature. More trees and plants around football pitches seemed the popular suggestion for the best of both worlds.  


Considering your school or workplace, do you feel that more space for nature is needed?


They then tackled the difficult question of whether the United Kingdom should provide:

a) money,

b) expert help to countries more affected by the impacts of the climate crisis, or

c) whether the UK should cut carbon emissions more quickly. 

The next step for students is to survey the types of surfaces across their school grounds and make recommendations of opportunities for ‘less flooding and more wilding’. We look forward to the maps and ideas being submitted.  

students and hive team BCC 23

Students from Riverley Primary's Eco Commitee

BCC writing on post it

"I want to learn about how to help people around the world" Climate justice was a topic lots of students were keen to learn more about

poppy teaches students bcc

Students voting on one of the survey questions posed in the Big Climate Conversation this year 

Climate Leaders Summer course

In the first week of the Summer holidays, against a back drop of news about extreme heatwaves and tragic fires, a group of enthusiastic and climate curious 16 – 18 year old's joined The Hive’s Climate Leaders: Eco-Action week. They took part in a wide range of activities including ecology surveying and conservation methods and developing a local Climate Action initiative proposal and presenting it to a Councillor for feedback. 

The student's left the course facilitators feeling buoyed by their ideas, collaborative spirit and commitment to wanting a healthy environment for everyone. 

One student who aspires to be an Environmental Journalist wrote a blog about her experience. Read on below for the highlights and you can read her full article here on The Garden Party blog.

Climate Leaders: Eco-Action week Review by Zalayka Azam

What was the Climate Leadership programme?

It was a great opportunity for people aged 16-25 to connect with other like-minded environmental enthusiasts while learning about the current state of the climate crisis as well as its causes and effects. We learnt about environmental challenges and how we could tackle them with more sustainable techniques, such as a variety of conservation methods (which was equally as interesting and informative!) The premise of the course was to gain a nationally recognised Carbon Literacy accreditation and develop climate leadership skills, which to me seemed like an attainable goal due to the inherent encouragement and supportiveness from the group.


Throughout the whole course, the encouragement and stimulating discussions never faded. The course leaders did a fantastic job in checking in with how we are feeling and having reflection periods throughout the sessions to ensure everything was going well, the course was well-organised and immersive with a combination of practical and theoretical elements that kept us engaged and interested in knowing more about environmental sustainability and how we as individuals can take an active role in tackling climate change and conserving nature. 



Looking at samples from a pond at The Hive

Identifying the animals in a sample from one of the ponds at The Hive 


Climate data scientist presentation on solar panels

Nat Harwood, Climate Data Scientist for Waltham Forest council, explaining a current project to identify the roofs most suitable for solar panels

Learning about pollarded trees in Epping Forest.

Learning about pollarded trees in Epping Forest. At this spot there is an area of historically pollarded trees opposite an area still managed and pollarded recently.

Add an eco-friendly twist to your Summer Fayre

The end of the school year is in sight and it’s the perfect time for celebrating the past year with a summer fayre. They are a great opportunity to get the school community together but in the frenzy of ice lollies and party games they can also have quite a large environmental footprint.

Some schools are turning their events into an opportunity to demonstrate simple and fun ways to protect the environment and take climate friendly action. Last summer at Henry Maynard Primary School, students made and sold eco inspired products such as lip balms, fresh lemonade, and herb gardens made from recycled plastic bottles as part of their Enterprise Week. This term Walthamstow Primary Academy is also promoting a sustainable Summer Fair.

Download our Guide for Running an Eco-Aware School Event


Practical steps when planning

The Hive has drawn on advice from our friends in the UK Sustainable Schools Network Advice to create a guide to help your school event organisers minimise the environmental and climate impact of the event.

To start with, make sure everyone at the event knows your school is walking the talk and get students involved in your activities. For example, making signs about things such as showing where the water fountains are (which helps promote reusable bottle use). This is a great way to raise awareness and start conversations about positive actions.

Celebrate your actions

Does your school have an Eco-Committee, UN Rights Respecting group or equivalent? A public event like this is perfect for showing off their work and celebrating what these students and the whole school has been doing over the whole year.

Sharing what is already happening is a great way to involve people in thinking about what else could happen next year. For example, could the Eco-Committee have a stall inviting people to share what their vision for a green school of the future is?

Green activities

Henry Maynard Eco-Lead, Ms Morgan, shared an inspirational list of the activities they had at last year's fayre, and The Hive has added in a few more.

Try putting a call out to your schools' parent, there are lots of options they can help with and I'm sure they'll come up with even more ideas...

  • Dr. Bike
  • Seed planting and plant stall
  • Leaf printing
  • Preloved books and puzzles for sale
  • Compostable plates and cups for food and drink
  • Plant-based food tasting
  • Lots of veggie options
  • Upcycling based craft activities
  • Urbaser UK / Waltham Forest Waste and Recycling team
  • Eco-treasure trail around the school grounds
  • Local bee-keeper
  • Solar power experiments
  • Students running a stand about the Eco-Schools Green Flag, UN Global Goals or UN Rights Respecting with a game for parents to play.
  • Energy saving advice (more suitable for Autumn events)

International Day of Forests

The International Day of Forests, celebrated on March 21st, is a global event that aims to raise awareness about the importance of forests and trees. 2023’s theme for the International Day of Forests was "Forests and health". It’s a reminder that healthy forests bring healthy people, and that preserving forests will ensure a better future for current and future generations.

Our local forest, Epping Forest, is one of the most ancient forests in the country, dating back over 8,000 years. It is a unique and biodiverse ecosystem, covers over 2,400 hectares and is home to over 5,000 species of flora and fauna, including rare species such as the stag beetle. Epping Forest has a huge impact on the mental and physical health of its visitors, with visitors to The Hive consistently commenting on how spending the day in the forest improves their mood and reduces stress.

Forests, including Epping Forest, play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Did you know that tropical rainforests currently store over a trillion tonnes of carbon?! That's more than the weight of every person on the planet!

Forests are the ultimate givers, providing food, shelter, resources, medicine, clean water, clean air and more. They also help regulate the water cycle, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitats for countless species of wildlife. It’s clear that forests are essential for a healthy planet.

I think it’s time for us to give back and protect our forests and here’s what you can do to help:

  • More plants, less meat – agricultural land use change is one of the leading causes of deforestation. By eating more plants, we reduce the need for animal agriculture, leaving more space for forests to flourish
  • Buy forest-friendly products – vote with your pound and choose recycled/responsibly sourced products, and just consume less in general!
  • Enjoy forests responsibly – take time to enjoy the forest, share your love of nature with others, and look after your local green spaces by taking part in litter picking or tree planting events

looking up into canopy of oak tree with sun beaming through leaves

Did you know that 60 football pitches of rainforest are lost every minute!


large stag beetle crawling on a tree branch

The famous stag beetle. The rapid loss of forest is resulting in the extinction of numerous insect species.


4 children in the forest, 2 measuring a tree with a tape to the right and 2 looking at a clipboard to the left

We offer activities for students to learn about the role trees play in the climate crisis.

All about moss...

Let’s talk about that soft, spongey plant that covers the forest in a carpet of green. Moss! There are a multitude of colours, shapes and forms of moss which can be found in a variety of habitats, although favouring moist, damp environments. Moss is unique from other plants in the fact that it is flowerless and has no roots or stem, instead using rhizoids (small hairlike structures to anchor the plant into a substrate).

Now, mosses don’t just look cool, they also are super important and beneficial to their environment. It’s believed that they can be dated back to 450 million years ago (!!) which means they survived mega changes in the climate – legends. Mosses are also magical sponges – Sphagnum moss can hold up to 20 times their weight in water, crikey! This helps to prevent soil erosion in its surrounding environment. Fun fact – moss was used as bandages in WW2 due to its ability to absorb liquid and its antibacterial properties! (please do not try at home)

Imagine this – a wildfire swept across a forest, decimating all life and all that remains is bare ground. How can the ecosystem ever come back from that? Here’s where moss comes in. This great pioneer can survive these harsh, apocalyptic conditions and create a more habitable environment for other species to thrive in. Invertebrates love a little mossy home too. You will often find animals such as woodlice amongst the moss as they are crustaceans, therefore they require a damp environment – woodlice and moss, the perfect match!

I hope you are beginning to see how incredible moss is, dare I say it’s growing on you

Get out in your local green space and see how many different species of moss you can spot. Tag us in your photos we would love to see them!

A circular mound of spiky moss on top of a brown stick

A small mound of bristle moss (Orthotrichum sp.)


Light green feathery moss

Feather moss (Eurhynchium sp.)


Star-shaped dark green moss

Haircap moss (Polytrichum sp.)

Happy new year from The Hive!

Happy new year from all of us here at the Hive, we hope you enjoyed your holiday season and are ready for a jam-packed 2023 filled with nature! Time for a roundup of our 2022 highlights 🎉

2022 was a busy year for the Hive; our redeveloped site was enjoyed by lots of school groups, new staff members joined the team, there was the big rebrand bonanza, and much more! Let’s have a look at some of our achievements from last year to prepare us for the excitement of what 2023 holds.

First out of the gates, we’ve got to mention it, our new look! To coincide with our new site redevelopment, the centre has had a little face lift in the form of a new name and new branding. Our mission has remained the same as it always was, but with an added vision of climate learning. We’re excited to get young people passionate about climate action and awareness through new activities and events. Watch this space!

Coming up in second is the launch of our new Carbon Literacy training programmes, first delivered to Waltham Forest Council staff and Harlow College, to facilitate climate action through discussion and pledges. Carbon Literacy is described as “an awareness of the carbon dioxide impacts of everyday activities, and the ability to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis”. 2023 sees the rollout of Carbon Literacy to colleges, university, and even bespoke Hive courses. Wowza! Can it get any better? (spoilers… it can – and will!).

Grab your family because this year promises even more ways to enjoy the Hive. Our trailblazing sustainable residential facilities will be used not just for school residentials, but family camps! That’s right, you and your tribe can spend a night or 2 immersed in Epping Forest, enjoying a whole range of nature-based fun delivered by our experienced staff. Definitely not one to miss out on. More information coming soon!

Let’s hatch a plan to make 2023 a great one!

Make sure you are following our socials to keep as up to date as possible.


The Hive sign in front of the building

Our new branding!


Group of adults sitting around a table listening to presenter at front of room with powerpoint

Delivering Carbon Literacy training to Harlow College staff in December


Two adults and child in a wheelchair heading towards camping pods along a dirt path

Our residential camping pods have been enjoyed by lots of children last year!

Big Climate Conversation 2022 (November 2022)

While the world leaders were meeting at COP27 in Egypt, the Hive Outreach team were visiting schools and colleges across the borough to run Big Climate Conversations. Six schools and colleges in Waltham Forest hosted these conversations, created by Votes for Schools, which were attended by over 300 student members of Eco-Committees or Student Voice groups from 23 schools.

We discussed the term ‘Net Zero’ and what solutions are being put in place locally to reach the ambitious goal of net zero by 2030. We heard from young people about what actions they could take to tackle the climate crisis and what else they want to see done. There was in-depth consideration of what obstacles might get in the way for them and Waltham Forest residents, and how we can overcome them. 

It was a fascinating, energising and inspiring fortnight - with lots of ideas from the students and hundreds of pledges to take action themselves and in their schools. 

Many of the students that took part were going back to school to run the Big Climate Conversation with a whole class of their peers. Those in eco club or school councils are planning to put the ideas generated into practice in the coming months. The Hive and London Borough of Waltham Forest are supporting all local schools to work towards an Eco-Schools Green Flag and this work will contribute to these schools Green Flag applications. 

The annual Big Climate Conversation reached students from Year 1 to Year 13 with positive feedback from teachers of all age groups:

‘Students were buzzing with ideas’

Waltham Forest College Director of Learner Experience, Marketing & Communications

‘It was a great experience having you in- very informative and inspiring! The children thoroughly enjoyed the morning.’

Whitehall Primary School teacher

The Big Climate Conversation fortnight also marked the launch of the Waltham Forest Schools and Colleges Climate Charter. 70 people attended the online event to hear from Lauren Ovenden, WF Director of Education and three experts in climate and sustainability education share their very different approaches to teaching and raising the profile of climate learning.

We will be building on the enthusiasm from the Big Climate Conversation through Spring and Summer term with offers for primary schools, a Climate Leadership programme for secondary schools and colleges, and tailored meetings/workshops for staff, governors and students to develop whole school Climate Action Plans.

Get in touch with the Climate Action Outreach Coordinator, Poppy Flint, to find out more.

Waltham Forest College students attending the Big Climate Conversation

Students adding their climate action pledges

Students from Riverley participating in the workshops

Students from Downsell learn about climate action in WF

"Greenest" School Meals (Summer 2022)

Our residential visitors enjoy a tasty vegetarian menu choice served up by Waltham Forest Catering.

You're in safe hands as they recently topped the UK Greenest School Menu League, serving up one million plant-based school meals a year across 50 local primary schools. 

On our residentials we only serve vegetarian or vegan meals, provided by Waltham Forest Catering.  This is part of our strategy to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by making it easy for people to choose healthy food for a healthier planet. The Hive (formally Suntrap) has been trailblazing meat free meals for many years and aims to continue to inspire future generations to develop sustainable eating habits. Working closely with Waltham Forest Catering is an ideal way to inspire visitors to eat less meat with tasty food packed with flavour and versatility.

Today, we’re faced with stark realities: the wide-ranging impact of climate change is increasing at an alarming rate and industrial farming is a big part of why. At the same time, there’ll soon be around 10 billion of us to feed and the growing appetite for and access to cheap meat-heavy diets is not just choking our planet, it’s impacting our health and lowering the quality of life for animals globally.

Over the past few years, the signing up of many countries to the Paris Climate Agreement, along with several extreme weather events, has brought the reality of climate change home to millions more people. As the public conversation has grown, more people have learned about the link between large-scale agriculture – specifically intensive meat production – climate change and emissions.

A staggering 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are coming from the livestock supply chain, leading the United Nations (UN) to identify cutting down on meat as the biggest single change individuals can make to address climate change. It’s not surprising to see both these issues embedded in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the environmental impact of animal rearing, it stands to reason that cutting out meat can help fight climate change – but for us that’s not enough. At The Hive we’re working on lots of other solutions to fight climate change and protect our shared planet.