School students make for a blockbuster National Tree Day

School students from across the Latrobe City, Wellington and Baw Baw Shires have made this year’s National Tree Day an absolute blockbuster.

“The numbers and the involvement have been pretty amazing really,” said Landcare Facilitator with the Latrobe Landcare Network, Marnie Ellis.

More than 800 people including students from 13 different schools, Landcare and community members have planted more than 10,000 trees at 20 different sites from Neerim to Rosedale. Double the number that were planted in 2018.

“An effort such as this has a range of positive spin off in terms of helping build bio-diversity, increase habitat for animals, shelter for livestock on neighbouring paddocks and of course building community. It’s been great to see the kids not only plant, guard and mulch the trees but to see the ownership that they are taking of the sites is really encouraging,” added Ms Ellis.

All the sites chosen were in the Latrobe River catchment and in some places built on plantings from previous years, with the areas around the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail being the most visible.

“The Rail Trail sites were a really good example of these events being a community effort with local farmers helping prepare the sites by ripping the  soil to make planting easier and local nurseries delivering mulch to help the trees get established,” said Marnie.

Helen Hoppner  from the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail committee was full of praise for the work the students did.

“This is a fantastic outcome for us which gets the kids onto the Rail Trail, meaning they will hopefully come back with their parents, but also just improving the Rail Trail for other users. We’re delighted to be involved and look forward to maintaining our involvement in coming years.”

School involvement ranged from the big to the small with 150 students from Lavalla Catholic College and 15 students from St Michaels PS, Traralgon.

Alex Wilson from Grey Street Primary School, Traralgon said the experience was a valuable one for the students who embraced the challenge of working together to plant and protect the young trees.

“The students really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved. While we encourage the kids to be active in the playground, doing something practical like planting trees in the broader community isn’t an experience that comes along very often. As a teacher it was rewarding to see how the children participated and enjoyed it all.”

While National Tree Day is a focus for Landcare over winter, there are many opportunities for people to get involved with helping protect and improve the local environment at other times of the year.

“If someone would like to get involved in Landcare there are active groups around the region,” said Landcare Facilitator Marnie Ellis. “If someone would rather participate with an occasional volunteer effort, they should definitely give me a ring at the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority office in Traralgon. We can certainly help them get involved.”

Should schools wish to get involved in next year’s National Tree Day, an expression of interest will be sent to all schools in February of 2020.

National tree Day activities are supported with funding from Energy Australia.

Grey St PS – Grade 3 student Isla Bloomfield was busy mulching trees as part of National Tree Day activities. Isla is part of Grey St Primary School’s Green Team.