St Paul’s 'koala corridor'

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Find out how St Paul’s School students are helping to save koala populations by planting a ‘koala corridor’ of trees

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High School perspective by Service Learning Committee members and Year 10 students Samuel Deoji, Ben Hering and Chantelle Jackson

We are part of the Student Executive of the St Paul’s Service Learning Committee.

St Paul’s School is lucky enough to have a sprawling campus that is rich in biodiversity and houses a number of ecosystems. Using our outdoor sites as places of learning connects our students to their local community and gives them the power to create change in a local context. It was with this in mind that students and teachers looked at the dwindling numbers of koalas in the local area and decided to take positive and environmentally responsible action through the planning and eventual initiation of the Koala Corridor Project.

St Paul’s School became partners with Land for Wildlife in 2017 and networked with community groups, such as local environmental action group, the Bald Hills Bushies. We also consulted with staff from the University of the Sunshine Coast, who were expert in koala tracking to plan the project in a way that would ensure the outcome was ecologically effective and sustainable.

The St Paul’s Koala Corridor has been brought to life through the efforts of students, teachers and support staff volunteers. Students and staff initially came on board through our Service Learning Committee. This committee took responsibility for raising money to fund the project. Funds were raised through the sale of reusable coffee cups. Students identified that a great deal of waste was being generated through our community café, Sippers. To counteract this problem the idea of reusable coffee cups was suggested and so ‘Koala Kups’ came into being. The School was assisted in this program through generous funding grants received from our Local Councilor, Ms Amanda Cooper. These grants, totaling $2000, have allowed for the total cost of production of the reusable cups to be covered, which means all funds raised through the sale of the koala cups has gone directly to covering expenses involved in the creation of the Koala Corridor.

The Service Learning Committee has also actively participated in working bees to initiate the tree planting process. Through the help of support staff at St Paul’s the committee started planting the eucalypt trees at various working bees across the year. To this point, this process has involved planting over 750 trees and this total will eventually grow to 2500 trees spread across a 600m expanse of land which stretches across the entire northern section of the School grounds. This corridor of eucalypts and other trees will create a sanctuary so that koalas can move across the campus safely, while accessing tasty eucalypt treats.

The Service Learning Committee is very keen on continuing to work on this initiative, which will create a lasting legacy and have a positive widespread impact on our local environment.

It is very satisfying being able to witness what can be achieved with some effort, good communication and team work. Being a participant in this project has allowed us to appreciate our surroundings and understand we can make a positive impact upon them. It is so pleasing to work alongside our teachers, our peers, school support staff and representatives from organisations outside the school to create something very special. We have learnt the importance of good networking and accessing skilled people to help ensure quality outcomes. We look forward to seeing the corridor continue to grow, with more people joining in its success. St Paul’s Junior School students are now also involved, making the project a truly whole school initiative.

It will take time before we reach our goal of an established corridor, but we know the ongoing work and effort involved will definitely be worth it. We are extremely excited to see how the initiative will evolve; hopefully, it will provide an environment which allows our koala population to flourish and grow.

Junior School perspective by Ecomarine Ambassadors and Year 6 students Ella Prince, Aarya Chand and George Elsom-Wang

We are part of the Junior School’s Ecomarines, which is an environmental group at St Paul’s with over 80 members from Years 1-6. We have facilitated the Junior School involvement in the project. We are part of a larger network, called the Tangalooma Ecomarines, which encourages students to learn and take action to combat water pollution at our local level and help preserve Moreton Bay. St Paul’s School borders the South Pine River, which feeds into the Pine River that flows into Moreton Bay.

The Koala Corridor is a great thing for our school. The Junior School has planted over 250 trees already. We have had interesting walks and have learned about the importance of the corridor for St Paul’s plants and animals and for our local area. We learned about the types of trees and much more. Not only are the younger grades also enjoying this project but also the older kids, because they care.

It was amazing to see all our younger students (as little as Year 1s) planting trees and getting connected with nature. One of the Year 1s said to us, “My dream is to become a St Paul’s Ecomarine Ambassador to help our environment.”

It’s great to see everyone’s efforts to save the Koalas. The teachers also seemed to enjoy seeing the students communicate with other students who had similar interests about the environment. The teachers and the parent volunteers helped us so much.

We were very tired from our planting sessions, but we had a lot of fun planting trees and brainstorming how this would impact koalas. I am sure the koalas will be very happy and pleased with what we are doing and we really hope for the best for our school and its environment.

St Paul’s Year 10 student Joel Melloy planting a eucalypt sapling at one of the Service Learning working bees helping to grow the Koala Corridor: the students plant and mulch around the young trees after ground staff cleared and bore the holes

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