With a school on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD and the majority of students living in built-up, urban areas, students and teachers were looking at ways of increasing biodiversity within the school grounds. To kick off a long-term regeneration project, they decided to create a bird sanctuary, planting a native garden and installing bird baths to attract small native birds including the white-plumed honeyeater, silvereye, superb fairy-wren and spinebill.
Having been successful in securing a Powerful Youth Project grant to help them along, 300 students and 10 volunteers got stuck into the project, gaining hands-on experience in bush regeneration and conservation to transform an unused parcel of land.
The students learnt about different species of plants. Having been introduced to the plants without any names to identify them, they were amazed at how different they looked, felt and smelt. They then had to guess what name belonged to which plant. With the help of school horticulturalist, the students enjoyed planting the different plant species inside the sanctuary. They were meticulous in squeezing the plant out, loosening the roots of the plant, adding the right amount of water, and packing mulch around the base.
The next phase of the project is to identify ways to begin attracting a population of native birds to the area, which will hopefully ultimately attract other native fauna too, such as skinks, lizards and insects. The plants flowering will also provide a further learning opportunity for the students, witnessing when each plant flowers and how long for.
The creation of this bird habitat shows the wider North Melbourne community the possibilities of conservation and regeneration projects within the confines of small patches of land in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. In the future, this bird sanctuary will be used to show local businesses what the school can do within its grounds, in an attempt to increase funding for larger regeneration projects.
The Powerful Youth Projects are funded by Momentum Energy through its partnership with Junior Landcare. Schools, childcare centres and youth groups in Victoria are eligible to apply for a Powerful Youth Project, and applications open in February 2018.