Age Groups: 0-7 | 7-13 | 13-18
Grant Name: 2018 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants
School: 1st Upwey Scout Group
Grant Sponsor: Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action
Located about 50 minutes from Melbourne, Birdsland Reserve is a 75-hectare bushland reserve. In order to save the site from urban development, the Shire of Sherbrooke purchased Birdsland in 1981 and opened it to the public as a community bushland reserve.
Many species of native wildlife find sanctuary at Birdsland. Over 130 different native birds have been identified in the reserve including the Wedgetail Eagle and Powerful Owl. Birdsland supports over 200 species of native plants.
The local 1st Upwey Scout Group wanted to embark on a project to help strengthen a part of the ecosystem at this iconic reserve by developing a wetland environment at Birdsland. The project’s goal was that this new wetland would provide many new habitats and reintroduce native plant species in large numbers.
Receiving a 2018 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grant of nearly $5,000 made this project possible. The Scout Group’s Birdsland Reserve Ecosystem Strengthening project involved 80 Scouts ranging in age from five to 25, along with 40 volunteers.
The project provided new wetland areas in Birdsland as well as significant replanting in several drier areas around the park and on other nearby sites. As it takes hold, the wetland will improve water quality by natural filtration from the wetland plants and improve soil quality by removing contaminants from road runoff and rubbish from housing and a school upstream.
The replanting of other key areas will provide more organic matter in the soil through the breakdown of leaf litter. Revegetation will increase biodiversity by attracting birds and other species to the area, enhancing the health of the ecosystem.
The project has encouraged broad thinking among the 1st Upwey Scout Group about the process of maintaining and developing a natural area to best support its animals and plants as well as usage by other people.
Youth Scout members have learned about seed collection, propagation and planting of local native plants as well as the process of keeping them viable and rebuilding an ecosystem from a weed infested bog.
The youth members developed an understanding of biodiversity through the investigation of the plants and animals of the Birdsland area, particularly endangered species such as the Yellow-bellied Glider and Platypus.
Community and Social Outcomes
The Scout group was also involved in an event at Birdsland called Parkrun, which sparked more thought about the many uses of these parkland areas and the importance of providing useful spaces for all of the community as well as the animals. The involvement of all of the Scout group’s sections, as well as families, in this project has been helpful for youth members to get to know each other as well as other community members.
Part of the project was setting up a valuable relationship with Yarra Ranges Council and Southern Dandenongs Community nursery to enable future similar interactions.
1st Upwey Scout Group’s Birdsland Reserve Ecosystem Strengthening project delivered by providing new wetland areas in the reserve as well as significant replanting in a variety of drier areas around the park and on other nearby sites. The youth members all enjoyed the planting as they could clearly see the impact that they had made and they can now point this area out to their families when they come to Birdsland on other occasions. They also felt a sense of pride and ownership when they talked about it at the National Tree Planting Day with other participants.
One of the scouts who participated said, "Planting and hearing about the night birds was fun and helped me to see that we need to work together with our community to keep our parklands working for everyone."