KS4 Biology: Woodland ecosystem investigation

Students undertake a woodland investigation in one of the sustainably managed coppice woodland areas at Wakehurst.

Wakehurst birch collection


Key Stage 4


90 minutes - 2 hours

Allocated space

20 students per group


Students use a variety of fieldwork techniques to investigate the plants found in the coppiced areas. They observe and record the environmental changes which take place at different stages in the coppicing cycle and their effects on plant and animal life.

This is a half day session or could be part of a full day visit that is tailored to suit the needs of your group and planned in detail prior to the visit.

Learning outcomes

School visits at Wakehurst support and enhance the curriculum offered in schools and colleges. We aim to give students opportunities that are difficult or impossible to create in the school or college environment.

We design our sessions to match the learning outcomes in the National Curriculum and GCSE specification.

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Investigate biodiversity in the hazel coppice.
  • Identify woodland species of plant.
  • Describe coppicing as a method of sustainable management of woodland.
  • Compare the re-growth of hazel rods in different coppice plots.
  • Investigate the effect of coppicing on herbaceous plants using random sampling.
  • Measure the abiotic and biotic factors affecting growth e.g. soil, light, predation.

Curriculum links 

KS4 National Curriculum

  • Levels of organisation within an ecosystem
  • Some abiotic and biotic factors which affect communities; the importance of interactions between organisms in a community.
  • How materials cycle through abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems.
  • The role of microorganisms (decomposers) in the cycling of materials through an ecosystem.
  • Organisms are interdependent and are adapted to their environment.
  • The importance of biodiversity.
  • Methods of identifying species and measuring distribution, frequency and abundance of species within a habitat.
  • Positive and negative human interactions with ecosystems.

Links to GCSE specification

  • OCR Gateway Science Biology A B 4.1 Ecosystems.
  • OCR Twenty First Century Science Suite - Biology B Chapter B3: Living together – food and ecosystems.
  • Edexcel Topic 9 – Ecosystems and material cycles.
  • AQA 4.7 Ecology.
A wide shot of the winter garden

Key Stage 4 sessions

Engaging and hands-on curriculum-linked activities taught by experienced and enthusiastic Kew teachers.