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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Pocket forests for Byron High School

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Some of the Byron High School students involved with the native pocket forest plantings within the school grounds. Photo supplied.

Michael Scharka, Vincent Lycenko, Abbi Hart, Lana Godward, Louis Trisley & Rex Coppin

A group of year 10 students at Byron Bay High School have begun a Native Australian Planting project in response to the devastation that land clearing, habitat loss, and increasing temperatures are currently having on now depleted ecosystems globally.

The aim of this project is to create and nurture a native garden that will support the beautiful Australian wildlife that has recently been struggling owing to human caused extreme environmental changes.

There has been extensive research and planning into the species of native flora to be planted that will benefit the ecosystems in Byron Bay.

Inspired by David Attenborough

The project was inspired by Sir David Attenborrough’s most recent environmental documentary, A Life on Our Planet, which is a witness statement, following the many journeys of his career.

His narration recounts his life travelling to untouched wilderness areas of the planet, highlighting  the changes experienced within his lifetime.

This documentary has opened the eyes of students to the detrimental effects the human race has had on the planet, the effects that Attenborough has dubbed; ‘Mankind’s greatest mistake’.

However, the students at BBHS are passionate and determined to change their lifestyles in order to reverse these mistakes.

David Attenborough has been an inspiration, and has shown that there is hope if the decision to act now is made.

Sustainable grant

The school applied for, and was awarded, ‘The Sustainable Schools Grant’, a $10 million dollar program that gives schools the opportunity to develop innovative hands-on projects that help students learn about environmentally sustainable practices and take real steps to enhance the sustainability of the school environment.

The grant is going to be used to create ‘pocket forests’ within the school grounds, to not only support the local species threatened by climate conditions, but also to reduce the carbon footprint of Byron Bay High School.

Creating this garden in the school will help to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and will also contribute to creating a more holistic school environment by increasing biodiversity and restoring native bushland.

This planting will also help, albeit on a small scale, to restore some of the 5.3 million hectares lost in the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Indigenous land use management

A recent environmental talk by Arakwal representitives, Delta Kay and Nickolla Clark, provided students with knowledge on the importance of Byron Bay’s native flora and fauna.

Their sacred knowledge has given students a greater understanding of Indigenous land use management, and the species that will most benefit the school environment.

It is vital that the school community embraces the intergenerational knowledge that the local Arakwal people can share surrounding the species of flora and fauna native to the Northern Rivers.

David Attenborough stated that to restore the planet’s biodiversity, ‘We require more than intelligence, we require wisdom’, something that local Indigenous custodians are happy to share.

♦ The authors are all Byron High School students.

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