The structure of the animal categories on ‘wildengland.com’ was the subject of intensive discussion and debate within the team. Bearing in mind the age range of our target users we wanted to make the categories simple to understand and the animals in the A-Z easy to reference. We wanted above all to avoid being ‘bogged down’ by technical classification issues.
Categorisation and classification can become very confusing very quickly. The more confusing the subject becomes the less enjoyable it becomes, the less enjoyable it becomes the less likely it is that a reader will learn anything constructive about the subject. Our aim was to achieve sensible groupings of individual animals that were simple, logical and accurate.
We decided to clarify ‘native’ by separating out EXTINCT WILDLIFE, INTRODUCED WILDLIFE and VISITING WILDLIFE (summer and winter migrants and occasional visitors) from our A-Z list. There are some exceptions to this in relation to visiting marine wildlife: creatures such as the Basking Shark, the Northern Minke Whale and the Leatherback Turtle have been included individually, although some would consider them regular visitors rather than strictly native species.
It was simple to arrive at the categories of MAMMALS, AMPHIBIANS, REPTILES, and FISH. We decided to separate a huge number of other individual species into two categories: SEA CREATURES and SMALL CREATURES. After further consideration we decided that MOLLUSCS, CRUSTACEANS and WORMS would be better separated out from these two broad categories into more specific ones of their own. We then agreed to include two further child-friendly categories of POND LIFE and SHORE LIFE to reflect the fascination and interest children have in these habitats and the wildlife found in them.
In relation to birds we decided to put the main category heading under RESIDENT BIRDS, to reinforce the fact that we are excluding regular visiting birds from our individual A-Z list.
The categories have not been chosen to give instruction in the complexities of wildlife classification. Rather, they have been chosen to encourage a broad understanding of our native wildlife. Through this we hope to provide a sound and logical knowledge base which will gently inspire an interest in the subject and lead to a lifelong enjoyment of our natural environment.