Armed with a 2018 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grant of nearly $5,000, Year 9/10 students at Murtoa College recently completed a project to improve the biodiversity of a wetland system owned by the college. The 44 participating students achieved this by propagating and planting a garden containing a variety of native plants to encourage native fauna back to the wetland and enhance its water quality.
Murtoa College is located in the wheat belt town of Wimmera, 300 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.
The wetland system lies in an open paddock that contained very little biodiversity, being overrun by weeds in the winter and dry ground in the summer. The students planted out the paddock, giving close consideration to selecting a wide variety of indigenous plants to provide a food source for birds and insects. Plants used consisted mainly of larger indigenous trees, which will increase biodiversity by creating habitat to encourage more native insects and wildlife into the area.
This project enabled students to learn about biodiversity and sustainability in a practical, hands-on way by planning and building the garden that now surrounds the wetland as well as visiting another school and a local permaculture farm to learn about gardening techniques and sustainability.
Students say their favourite aspects of the project were landscaping and preparing the area for planting, which involved a mix of practical work and social interaction.
When the garden is more established, it will be a habitat for a much broader range of native insects and wildlife.