After learning about the environment and importance of conservation in a classroom setting and on campus, 42 Year 6 students from Douglas Park Public School accompanied by three teachers, took their understanding to the next level by participating in a planting day organised by Landcare Australia and South32 Illawarra Metallurgical Coal.
The group planted 250 canopy trees inside a cleared area in South32’s BioBanking site at Appin West. The grey gums, stringybarks and ironbarks will help restore the critically endangered ecological communities found elsewhere onsite: Shale Sandston Transition Forest and Shale Plains Woodland.
This planting activity was part of South32’s commitment to restore the environment in the local area. The BioBanking site adjoins the company’s Appin West operations, part of Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, and supports 86 hectares of endangered ecological communities. The conservation and protection of this area is crucial to providing a safe environment for endangered species and for future generations.
The students had a magnificent day outside their classroom walls, learning about the importance of conserving our biodiversity and natural ecosystems. They got plenty of exercise walking a kilometre across bushland to access the planting site, while learning about the animals and plants that coexist in this habitat. The ecological communities are home to threatened species of flora, such us the small-flower grevillea and Port Jackson heath, as well as fauna such as koalas and turquoise parrots.
This was followed by an interactive talk about Australia’s biodiversity and natural resources, Aboriginal heritage, common threats to ecosystems and how to reduce our impact on the environment.
South32 and Landcare Australia have been partnering together since 2017, undertaking bush regeneration and restoration activities at the Appin BioBanking site, including controlling pests and weeds, and planting native vegetation.
The partnership also embraces community engagement, through the Enhancing Habitat Junior Landcare Grants program. The grants program provides schools in close proximity to South32 operations with the opportunity to undertake a project focused on habitat restoration. In 2017, 12 schools in New South Wales and West Australia received a grant of up to $5,000 each. Projects included restoring natural habitats for vulnerable species, bush tucker gardens, and the installation of nest boxes, among others. This year, schools close to South32 operations in West Australia and now also in Tasmania, have been invited to submit Junior Landcare grant applications.
The school planting day and the Enhancing Habitat Junior Landcare Grants program demonstrate South32 and Landcare Australia’s active commitment to the environment and local communities. The involvement of young people is essential for spreading awareness, protecting the environment and building capacity for future conservation projects.