Plants connect pupils to the past

Sustainability project: Willmot Public School year 5 pupils Ashley Tetley and Amber Nicholls with Greening Australia's chief ecologist Dr Paul Gibson-Roy and kangaroo grass replanted in their back playground. Picture: Gary Warrick

Sustainability project: Willmot Public School year 5 pupils Ashley Tetley and Amber Nicholls with Greening Australia's chief ecologist Dr Paul Gibson-Roy and kangaroo grass replanted in their back playground. Picture: Gary Warrick

A PROJECT to regrow the lower level of a stand of Cumberland Plain woodland at Willmot Public School has expanded to include a book, exhibition and documentary.

Pupils in years 3 to 6 replanted about 30 species of near extinct wildflowers and native grasses around a 1000-square-metre stand of trees in the school's backyard.

They were guided by Greening Australia's chief ecologist Paul Gibson-Roy, who has researched how to restore complex plant communities for more than 15 years.

"Hopefully they'll not only look nice and restore that ecological integrity, we're hoping they provide habitat for animals, insects and birds," he said.

"We wanted to link the kids into all that. I was very impressed at their level of understanding.

"We were talking through processes of evaporation and transpiration and all of these relatively complex biological things."

Principal Anne Denham said the pupils had learnt about the traditional uses of the plants from an Aboriginal elder and were taught how to use GoPro cameras to film a documentary of the project.

Both opportunities were set up by a sustainability officer at the University of Western Sydney. They have created a book of artworks and stories about the past, present and future of the Cumberland Plain woodland.

"Our goal with the kids has been to create a resource package that we can share with other schools," Mrs Denham said.

The work will be displayed at the university's Hawkesbury Discovery Centre in Richmond from May 29.

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