CASE STUDY
Native flora and fauna habitat

Age Groups: 7-13

Grant Name: 2018 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants

School: Fish Creek and District Primary

Grant Sponsor: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Project Overview

Fish Creek and District Primary School, located in South Gippsland, participates in Sustainability Victoria’s Resource Smart Schools program.  It boasts a dedicated environmental science program involving weekly classes for the whole school ranging from gardening, to healthy eating, natural resource management and sustainability.

The school wanted to extend its environmental sciences program by implementing a project involving the re-vegetation of bird, butterfly and insect attracting trees, under-story and ground cover on the borders of the Buckley Community Farm (owned by the local council).

The project scope included building nest boxes to facilitate habitat for bats, birds and gliders. The vision was that increasing the flora would enhance and provide habitat increasing the complexity of the garden precinct encouraging resilience

The school’s students were closely involved in the project, participating in ongoing maintenance, care as well as flora and fauna monitoring for the Fish Creek community.

Environmental Outcomes

The planting of native under-story trees and shrubs, ground covers and bush food plants provided habitat and food for fauna, including insects, birds, reptiles and small mammals. Plants were selected based on their resilience to South Gippsland weather and soil conditions. They were staked, weed-matted and mulched providing the best opportunity for plant establishment. Bush food plants were incorporated into the revegetated area, enhancing biodiversity and use of the plants for food and education.

Nest boxes were delivered as flat packs and are being built and installed by students in Term 1, 2020. The installed nest boxes will provide shelter and breeding sites for bats, birds and small mammals.

The project complements the existing garden providing a system increasing in flora and fauna relationships providing protection and resilience for the community garden. Future works include a frog bog, insect hotels and native bee habitat.

Educational Outcomes

The project also provides ongoing works including fauna and flora monitoring and surveys (photo points, nest-box use), maintenance and future projects. The Community Farm is easily accessed from the school via the Southern Rail Trail and provides an outdoor classroom aligned with the environmental science program and the biological sub strand of the Victorian Science curriculum.

The project has provided increased awareness of the values of biodiversity and strategic plantings to enhance site resilience to the school students and wider school community. Biodiversity is one of the areas of the schools sustainability program and the project enabled a whole school teaching focus and increased awareness in biodiversity and its benefits to local areas.

Community and Social Outcomes

This project involved interactions and collaboration between, the school and the local community and partners, including Buckley Park Community Farm, Fish Creek Landcare, Greening Australia, South Gippsland Shire Council, and local nurseries. The project provided 120 Fish Creek Primary School students, as well as staff and parents, with an opportunity to be involved with the preparation, planning and implementation of planting native species and installing nest boxes on a site outside the school grounds.

Fish Creek Primary School in conjunction with Buckley Park Community Garden will be involved in the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of both the flora and fauna at the site. The gardens and surrounding area provides a convenient, accessible outdoor classroom in which our students can learn and enhance their understanding of indigenous flora and fauna, the environment in which they live, sustainability and healthy eating.

Conclusion

Buckley Park Community Farm hosted the Fish Creek Primary School re-vegetation program around the boundaries of the community farm property. It is a great pleasure to have the students of Fish Creek Primary School taking part in sustaining bio-diversity within the community farm space.