Lantana Land No More – An Environmental Education Project

Lantana Land No More – An Environmental Education Project

Cattai Hills Environment Network (CHEN) teamed up with the Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Network to facilitate and assist Lorien Novalis School undertake a project that would engage a class of year 9 students with the bushland that resides within the school grounds.

This bushland was primarily dominated by three environmental weeds, Lantana Comara, Ochna serrulata, and Ligustrum lucidum. Indeed, the Dooral Dooral creek which flows through this bushland was not accessible to the students due to these weeds. We thought this creek would be a valuable asset to help educate the students on water health, as well as give the students the opportunity to contribute to its health through weed management.

With the help and communication between the teachers at Lorien Novalis, Katherine Clare, the Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Coordinator and Danielle Packer, the Cattai Aware Urban Project Officer at CHEN, we organised a project that would entail removing Lantana Comara to free the native plants that were being suffocated by the weed and to create a pathway to gain access to the Dooral Dooral creek, in which the weeds were restricting access to.  The plan also included the creation of a meeting circle within the area that had a fireplace and a humpy for the students to use. Due to the enormous amount of Lantana there was on this particular site, the name ‘Lantana land’ was given but with the aim of making it Lantana land no more..

 

Free the Natives!

After teaching the students how to remove Lantana safely, the first mission was to remove the Lantana that was burying the native trees. We called it operation, ‘Free the Natives!”

It was such a thrill when the students revealed the native trees underneath the Lantana, a very satisfying and rewarding process the students enjoyed. All the students got involved which was great to see and by doing so, accomplished a tremendous amount of work in just one two hour session!

 

Career Session

After our first session, we went to the hall to talk to the students about working in the environmental field including those in year 11 who came to visit. Among other topics, we touched on the importance of volunteering and how the skills you learn in volunteering opportunities such as Bushcare and Streamwatch can really help you stand out to employers. After our talk, a couple students expressed interest in getting involved in volunteer opportunities such as bushcare and are keeping in regular contact with CHEN and Landcare for further assistance in getting ahead on their environmental career path.

 

Reflection

After seven sessions of bush regeneration in Lantana Land, the creation of a humpy and a meeting circle, we huddled together with damper on a fire and reflected on what we all had learnt. It was great to see interest expressed from the students, and the simple lessons they learnt such as the significant impact of team work, the importance of looking after the land and an understanding of weeds and how they impact bushland and water quality.

Want More Environmental Engagement At Your School?

CHEN and the Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Network are looking for schools that want to engage in similar activities related to environmental education. If you would like to reach out to organize a meeting to discuss potential ideas for your school, community group or other, please feel free to contact CHEN’s Project Officer, Danielle Packer (danielle@chen.org.au) or the Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Coordinator, Katherine Clare (landcare@hrcc.nsw.gov.au).

Otherwise, being a part of Sustainable Schools NSW, is a great way to ‘connect environmental educators with relevant resources, interactive lessons and a like-minded community to help spread the important message of sustainability to future generations.’

 

7 Steps to Make A Frog Hotel – Landcare Group Activity

We don’t think about frogs too much, as we don’t see them due to their relatively small size and amazing camouflage ability, depending on the species of course.

But despite the fact they aren’t talked about enough, they actually play a significant role in the healthy functioning of our ecosystem. They are what is called an indicator species, which means if frog populations are decreasing, then an imbalance has occurred within the ecosystem. Some common reasons as to why frog species are declining are due to disease, invasive fish predation, UV light, habitat disturbance, and herbicides. Water quality due to human activities is also another cause to a decline in frog populations, as detergents, chemicals, and heavy metals are washed into waterways when it rains, polluting them and impacting the wildlife that reside there.

Frogs also play a significant role in the food chain, as they are eaten by birds, snakes and lizards. In return, frogs eat insects, other frogs, mice and even small birds! If frog populations continue to decline, a serious imbalance in the food chain will occur.

 

How Can We Help?

Frog Hotel

To help Australia’s frog species such as the common Persons tree frog or the Striped Marsh Frog, you can create a form of habitat for the frogs when they come across your backyard. When we create working habitats for native animals we are proving a corridor for them to cross from one bushland or reserve, to the next. Frogs need protection so by creating a Frog Hotel, you are providing them with a place to rest and have shelter.

 

Make Your Own Frog Hotel

To create your own Frog Hotel you will need the following:

Equipment:

Andrew helping the group by cutting all our PVC piping!
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill

Materials:

  • 1 Plastic tub
  • 2 PVC pipes
  • 1-3 native water plants
  • 250 grams of pebbles

Method:

  1. Saw the PVC piping into various sizes
  2. Using the sand paper, sand away the edges of the PVC pipes for a smooth finish so the frogs do not cut themselves when climbing in
  3. Drill a small hole into each PVC pipe, closer to the floor of the tub. This will help with water drainage.
  4. Create your design by setting up your PVC piping however you want within your chosen container, keeping them vertical or diagonal
  5. Add in your water plant
  6. Add in some pebbles
  7. Pour water into the pipes and onto the pebbles. Your frog hotel is now ready and waiting for guests!

You could also add in a solar light, which will attract insects at night for the frogs to feed on!

 

The Fred Caterson Landcare Group

At the Fred Caterson Landcare Group, we spent an afternoon creating Frog Hotels for our backyard buddies. Everyone had slightly different designs but all looked great in their own way.

One frog at a time, we are helping them survive within a highly urbanized environment.

A couple weeks after the activity, a Perons Tree frog was found in one of the girls frog hotels, which was shared on our Facebook group.

The Fred Caterson Landcare Group showing their Frog Hotels

At the Fred Caterson Landcare group, we meet up monthly to do different activities that engage the Hills Shire community with the natural environment, including bushcare.

If you would like to attend one of our free activities, please either add yourself to the group here, or email us at danielle@chen.org.au.

 

 

What is Citizen Science?

Streamwatch

Citizen Science is the collection and analysis of data collected by the general public to be used for scientific research. It is usually done collaboratively with professional scientists. It can also be described as public participation in scientific research.

Citizen science is very important as it enables scientists to collect data that would otherwise be impossible or expensive to collect by themselves. With the help of modern technology, people from all over the world can contribute to scientific studies by sharing data with each other.

Community Groups

Scientists often work with community groups as they may already be involved in similar projects, for example if they are working to help their local wildlife, and the citizen science program involves identifying wildlife species, then this collaboration will assist both parties in reaching their goals. The community groups are especially helpful as they can help by promoting the project to bring in new people, to generate ideas, and engage with scientists for advice.

A community group will have a variety of people with different skills and backgrounds too,  so scientists will be able to utilize these skills to expand their project and data collection methods. Volunteers can include kids, school students, amateur scientists, retirees and educators.

Citizen science programs are also a great opportunity for students and other volunteers to increase their knowledge and skills in a particular area.  Looking into volunteering opportunities that relate to your studies will greatly increase your chances in getting a job.

Citizen Science at CHEN

If you are looking into working in the environment field, whether it is on the research or community engagement side of things, volunteering with a group that increases knowledge and gives you valuable skills, will be very beneficial to your future career.

CHEN has a Landcare group that includes bush regeneration and citizen science opportunities. Our citizen science opportunities include, water quality testing which is in collaboration with Streamwatch; identifying and taking hollow measurements, which is in collaboration with Hollows as Homes; and Frog ID which is in collaboration with the Australian Museum.

We also partake in bush regeneration activities which is not a citizen science project but does provide you with knowledge and skills related to land management and plant identification.

If you want to get ahead in your career by partaking in such activities, please contact us to get involved.

Please email, danielle@chen.org.au for more information, otherwise click this link to be added to the Fred Caterson Landcare Group where you can keep up to date with what we are doing and come along!

 

Fred Caterson Landcare Group

Fred Caterson Landcare Group

CHEN is offering the chance to be a part of a Landcare Group at the Fred Caterson Reserve in Castle Hill.

This group aims to provide bush regeneration services to the Cattai creek and its surrounding bush land. This may include some days focused on tree planting and weed removal, while other days may be focused on providing citizen science data to numerous organizations. One example of this is working with Streamwatch to collect water quality data from the Cattai creek. Another may include using the FrogID app to collect data on the frog species in the area and submitting it to the Australian Museum for research.

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