Murdoch students helping Roe 8 restoration

September 29, 2017

Real-world learning: Ecology students assess Roe 8 restoration during their field trip

Murdoch University ecology students have been assessing the recovery of the Roe 8 site and found positive signs that native vegetation is regenerating.

Two groups of second year students evaluated the soil, mulch coverage and identified native plant species and weedy regrowth at locations near Bibra Lake and Coolbellup last week.

Their data will be used to inform future ecological restoration plans for the site.

A swathe of native bushland from the Kwinana Freeway to Stock Road was controversially cleared earlier this year to make way for the Roe 8 road extension, which was scrapped by the Labor state government after its election victory in March.

Some of the Murdoch University lecturers who supervised the 48 students are members of the Perth Urban Restoration Scientific Advisory Group (PURSAC), which is guiding the politicians, contractors and community members involved with restoring the Roe 8 site.

Dr Rachel Standish, who led the field trips, said the students had been eager to gain real world experience on a high profile site.

“We were very excited to give the students the unique experience of seeing ecology in action, providing them with inspirational experiences relevant to their future employment,” she said.

“Many students pass the site on the way to campus and so were already curious about the future of the corridor. Some are even likely to be part of the communities neighbouring the cleared area, and so have a keen interest in its restoration.”

Dr Standish said one of the first steps in the restoration process is to assess the level of intervention required to achieve restoration goals.

“Since PURSAC was formed in May, damaging mulch piles have been cleared and weeds have been recently sprayed. There is some recovery of the native vegetation via resprouting from root stock left after clearing, and recruitment of others from seeds already in the soil,” she explained.

“The students have done a great job in some difficult weather conditions to gather more detailed information about what is happening around the site.”

Student Taelum Slijderink said the experience had given her and fellow students a first-hand insight into the environmental impacts of clearing, and what is required for successful restoration.

“Learning about this will give us a better idea of how to deal with similar situations once we’re in the workforce,” she said.

Fellow student Eliza-Jane Jacques added: “It’s been heartening to see the emergence of native tree saplings like marri and jarrah in certain sections of the cleared corridor.”

The information gathered by the students will be presented to the project managers tasked with developing a ten-year restoration plan, which aims to restore native vegetation and return animals and birds to these habitats. Engaging with the local community is another important aim of the bigger restoration project.

“Students were allocated plots in key areas along the corridor in which to gather the data. This information will help to identify areas of the corridor where species are recovering without assistance and conversely the areas and species that may need help to recover,” Dr Standish said.

“Some of the actions that may be considered are interventions to reduce compacted soils, or patch seeding and planting.”

Dr Standish said the bush and wetland cleared from the Beeliar Regional Park was significant because it offers a glimpse into how the Swan Coastal Plain would have looked prior to urbanisation.

“Helping this area to recover will take time and we need to do it properly with a scientific basis to ensure the best possible result,” she said.

“We have high hopes the corridor will once more become a nature space residents and visitors can enjoy.”

Murdoch offers a range of courses that offer Ecology as a unit. Choose from an undergraduate degree in Biological SciencesConservation and WildlifeMarine Biology or Marine Science. Or pursue postgraduate studies in Environmental Science. To explore all our courses, visit murdoch.edu.au/study.

 

 

 

 

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Comments (One response)

peter murphy October 3, 2017

Preston Environment Group (PEG) is impressed re student revegetation project at Roe 8. Well done!
PEG recently developed a student bush retreat program where students (up to 6),can immerse themselves in citizen science (studies) i.e. flora/fauna/bushtucker/bush medicine, forest ecology & biodiversity.
Retreat (Eco Shelter) is located near Ferguson Valley and powered using renewable energy (solar).
Please contact me should you require for more info.
Peter

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