10 October 2017
Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools (RSS) Awards are 10 years old in 2017. To celebrate, the theme of this years’ RSS awards is ‘a decade of school wins for the environment’. One of the award categories is for biodiversity. This is the school which looks to protect and improve natural lands near them. This will benefit the local ecosystem and through this plant and animal habitats.
The finalists outlined below are to be commended because their biodiversity projects are progressive and impact positively all living things around them.
Eppalock Primary run a progressive Living Green program that links sustainability in the curriculum and school culture, and inspires conversations between staff, students, families and the community. The discovery of an endangered bird by a school family, the Grey-crowned Babbler rediscovered by a school family has reinvigorated birdwatching in the district. Other biodiversity actions include National Tree Day events, Bush Tucker Gardens with the Landcare Group and being an information community hub sharing biodiversity information.
Firbank Grammar has increased understory and vegetation structure, created a nature trail project and installed mosaic bird baths to encourage local fauna and flora. This change has recently attracted local wildlife to the area. Students explore the concepts of responsibility and causation; looking at how plants and animals respond to environmental conditions, adaptation and human actions that support living things.
St Therese Primary is involved with ‘Out and About’ - a program run in partnership with Victoria University and the Surf Coast Shire. This involves students walking to their nominated ‘special place’ where they engage with the natural environment. Students observe the growth, effects of weather, the seasons and human activity on flora and fauna. Teachers plan activities around the student’s discoveries and interests. Students have also planted of hundreds of trees, shrubs and grasses.
Badger Creek Primary’s biodiversity actions are student-centered, focusing on building knowledge through connecting to real life issues and working towards actionable solutions. Students have developed greater understanding of living and non-living things and human impacts on the environment. The school has built mutually beneficial partnerships with organisations in the community including Zoos Victoria, Landcare, Environmental Education for Kids, Yarra Ranges Council and Plastic Bag Free Healesville.
Kyneton Secondary students have been working with the Macedon Ranges Environment Department and local Landcare groups to conduct field studies on insect populations at Bald Hill Reserve, a patch of remnant vegetation near Kyneton. Students visit the reserve and see first-hand how the destruction of native forests has led to declines in native animal populations.
Lowanna College has planted a range of indigenous and non-indigenous plants at the school to attract local fauna to the school and surrounding areas. A significant achievement is the owl nesting box project that has demonstrated to students that humans can assist in the survival of some plant and animal species, which impacts the biodiversity of the school’s local environment.
The whole Yarra Ranges school community is involved in sustainability activities for example their annual tree planting and environment days, led by their Environment and Sustainability Team. A focus has been on improving the wildlife corridor along the school boundaries for the local Powerful Owls. Students have conducted biodiversity audits. This year the school achieved the ResourceSmart Schools Biodiversity Module and celebrated this with the school community.
Congratulations to the finalists of the Biodiversity School of the Year and finalists for all other categories. These schools are helping future-proof their communities. We look forward to sharing the winners with you soon.
The Awards are part of ResourceSmart Schools. ResourceSmart Schools is a Victorian Government program that helps schools benefit from embedding sustainability in everything they do, and take action on climate change. For more information on the ResourceSmart Schools program visit www.resourcesmartschools.vic.gov.au.