After almost 20 years of mud, sweat (and probably a few tears), Shearwater's Class 7 rainforest tree planting finally reached the far western end of our 1.8km section of Mullumbimby Creek's riparian sub-tropical rainforest, towards the end of last year.
We could easily start over again, filling gaps, repairing flood damage, removing persistent weeds, extending the canopy cover and replanting areas that have proved less successful. Work that I hope future generations of Class 7 students will put their backs into, continuing the School's long-term commitment to environmental restoration.
This year, which will be my 19th (and last) with Shearwater, we have shifted our focus back to the ephemeral wetland that drains much of the School as it winds from our western paddocks, through the middle of our grounds, passing under the High School and Office buildings, and eventually exiting under the staff car park bridge.
The first section of the wetland, at the eastern end of the School, was reconstructed and regenerated when we moved to the current site, and has evolved into the thriving ecosystem we can observe from the canteen area.
The next 300 metres heading west upstream from the library was regenerated by staff and Class 7 students over three years from 2009 to 2012, with generous funding from the NSW Environmental Trust under its Restoration & Rehabilitation Scheme.
Significant changes were made to the location of the main wetland watercourse when the Kindy and Preschool were built, necessitating the removal of some of our previous plantings and, during the last summer holidays, we used a large excavator to alter the drainage of the Farm’s western paddocks and the farm shed area, so that all excess water flows down behind the Kindy and Preschool and joins the previously regenerated wetland forest.
During Term 1, Cathy’s Class 7 worked with our bush regenerators, gardeners and teachers to plant over 420 plants along the section immediately behind the Kindy buildings - a combination of appropriate native trees, sedges, reeds and grasses.
It was a particularly hot and humid time of year and, although I did find some shady areas that needed planting, the students did well to endure the conditions that make such work so arduous. I thank them for that. I would also like to thank the Kindy teachers and children whose afternoon rest time played out to the soundtrack of young teenagers creating a new piece of wetland forest - not always a pleasant sound. In early September it will be the turn of the Preschool to share in that afternoon soundtrack when Julie's Class 7 have an opportunity to share in the long-term rehabilitation of our site.
If you would like to see what Cathy’s class has achieved please look around behind the Kindy buildings where recent favourable weather has helped the plantings thrive.
Coordinator Gardening and Bush Regeneration