By Mark Selmes – Media Officer, Roslyn Landcare Group

On Thursday 29th October, children from Crookwell and Laggan Primary schools enjoyed both great weather and great entertainment for the annual Local Land Services (LLS) and Roslyn Landcare Group (RLG) Schools Environmental Awareness and Tree Planting Day.

This year (thanks to Mary Bonet from the Great Eastern Ranges Glideways programme) the kids were lucky enough to be entertained by qualified educators from the Taronga Zoomobile. The Glideways programme is attempting to create partnerships and raise awareness about gliders, possums and tree dwelling animals in the region.  Zoomobile keepers Kerry Staker and Leon Burchill brought along some of our unique native animals for the kids to learn about. For those that wished, there was the opportunity to get genuinely ‘hands on’ with a huge green tree frog, a very fat shingleback lizard, a beautiful python and an adorable echidna. The children were even lucky enough to see a ringtail possum that one of the keepers had rescued and taken into care. A fantastic opportunity for everyone, while at the same time learning respect for these animals and their role in our landscape.

Earlier in the day the children were VERY hands on, planting over 300 native trees and shrubs to improve our future landscape.  With help provided by members of RLG and LLS staff these plantings are linking both past school plantings and connecting remnant patches and old growth trees in the Broken Bridge Travelling Stock Reserve. Plantings are more likely to be successful for both our plants and animals if they are near existing remnants. The local species planted will provide effective future stepping stones for many small woodland birds and tree dwelling animals.

This was highlighted in a previous session, focusing on the role that mature trees play for our wildlife. They provide not just the necessary food and shelter, but also the large hollows required as homes for many of our local animals. Protecting these large individual trees and existing remnant ‘island’ patches is vital. Linking them with new corridor plantings is necessary for many of our wildlife species to survive and move through the landscape. This can be particularly important during seasonal movements, migrations or in response to changing climate patterns. Many animals cannot otherwise cross large open areas as it exposes them to predators and feral animals.

Ferals and their impacts were ably demonstrated by Mark McGaw of LLS and his biosecurity team who brought along a display of introduced pest animals. LLS staff were instrumental in organising the day and fencing out the area for the  tree planting.

Mary Bonet summed up their efforts and those of RLG in her comment:  “We are working with local communities to strengthen these natural connections through revegetation and control of problem weed and feral animals, all of which threaten our wildlife and agricultural production.  The success of these ‘Schools Landcare Day Out’ events, recognising the efforts of all involved, resulted in a Catchment Champions Award earlier in the year. Hopefully these days will inspire a new generation of habitat heroes.”

The efforts on the day also included site preparation by RLG, a barbecue lunch provided by Crookwell Lion’s Club and the role of the teachers in attempting to harness the kids’ energy!

These days not only make children aware of the ecological benefits of planting trees and how they underpin a healthy ecosystem, they also help instill a feeling of community pride in participating in such projects. Hopefully the children will take away a sense of connection with the earth that sustains all life, a connection with the community that they live in, and a future connection with a generation that is yet to live but will reap the rewards.

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