HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS LEADING CHARGE TO PROTECT COASTAL DUNES

Mar 30, 2022Biodiversity

The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority’s ‘Dunecare Secondary Schools Program’ has partnered with local secondary schools to promote coastal environmental education, with a central focus on dune ecosystems. Schools involved include St Ignatius College, Oberon High, North Geelong Secondary College, Kardinia International College, Bellarine SC, St Joseph’s Flexible Learning, Geelong Lutheran College, and Belmont High School.

The Dunecare Secondary Schools Program is part of the $1.5M Bellarine and Great Ocean Road Dunecare project, which aims to develop student and community stewardship for local dune conservation and protection. The program provides an opportunity for students to receive hands-on experience carrying out conservation activities like weeding, revegetation, litter collection, and brush matting.

Indigenous cultural heritage education is at the center of the program as students learn from local traditional owners about how sacred the dunes and surrounding ecosystems are to the Wadawurrung traditional inhabitants. Students will also learn about the importance of habitat conservation and biodiversity protection practices.

Last year 23 sessions were conducted at various sites along the coast including Collendina, Whites Beach, Lighthouse Reserve, The Narrows Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale and Soapy Rocks.

Corangamite CMA Environmental Programs Manager Jessica Miller said, “We are thrilled to be delivering the Dunecare Secondary Schools Program. The program engages students through practical on ground experience in the field – harnessing their energy and enthusiasm and enabling them to contribute to positive environmental change in their very own ‘backyard’”.

“This program also encourages students to consider their impact on the coast, take part in discussions and then actively contribute to the rehabilitation of the dunes. The students’ positive contributions assist us to reinstate vegetation and re-establish indigenous plant colonies.” Ms Miller continued.

The Dunecare Secondary Schools Program is delivered by Bellarine Catchment Network, Ecologic, Marine and Fresh Water Discovery Centre, the Victorian Fisheries Authority, with support from the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

This Initiative is supported by the Australian Government’s Dunecare on-ground works program, a strategic plan that prioritises costal dune protection sites and protects fragile coastal dune systems that support native flora and fauna habitat by working in partnership with coastal public land managers between St Leonards and Marengo.   

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund.

This project will run until 2023.