On the 8th of June 2011, 16 schools joined a massive planting of native species at the Kwenda Marlark Walktrail which is in the conservation precinct at Perth Airport and I worked closely with students from Forrestfield Primary School, Trevor Walley from DEC’s ‘Ecoeducation’ and environmental personnel from Tranen Revegetation Systems during the first round of revegetation.
The restoration project at Kwenda Marlark started back in 2006 and I remember when it was a disused sand quarry. In fact, I learned recently that there used to be substantial sand dunes in that area and that the sand was mined down as far as the water table. Now it’s on its way to becoming restored native bushland, covered with plants such as Acacia pulchella, Banksia ilicfolia and Melaleuca pauciflora, to name only a few of the 45 species.
In total 600 students from 16 different schools have been involved in the revegetation plantings at the Kwenda Marlark Wetland with over $20,000 in grant funding awarded to the schools for the development of environmental projects on school grounds as well. All the plant seed is sourced from the conservation area and the students planted a total of 10,000 plants of those locally provenanced species! These plants are vital to restoring the ecosystem. Soon they will be home to all kinds of native creatures, and Forrestfield Primary will truly epitomise its name –Forrestfield!
Also in June, I joined a Professional Learning weekend for teachers, educators and scientists in the magnificent forests and wilderness environments of Perup, Valley of the Giants. How appropriate that we were there on Arbor Day in the International Year of Forests. What a huge effort the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has put towards installing the new Woylie enclosure at Perup. The $1.3 million dollar fence protects our endangered Woylie (Bettongia penicillata), Chuddich (Dasyurus geoffroii) and the Brush Tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa). We used traps to capture three possums and one phascogale and measured their size and weight before tagging and release.
Woylie numbers are rebounding. And it goes to show, when feral predators are removed from the ecosystem, how well native species can recover. We hope this will also be the case for WA’s most endangered marsupial Gilbert's Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii) and DEC is leading a wonderful effort to save species from probable extinction. We also canvassed locations with the potential to provide the best learning experience for visiting education groups.
Earlier in June I met with Australia’s new Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb. We discussed Western Australia’s Southwest status as the only internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot in Australia. The conversation reinforced my sentiment that science education for primary school children is vital and that Professional Learning programs for Teachers on Biodiversity—which subsequently translate to an improved learning experience for our children—will make a difference for Western Australia’s environmental future.
Below are before and after pictures of Kwenda Marlark. The rehabilitation started in 2006. Photos provided by Kobi Bradshaw.