Environmental partnership

THE community worked hand-in-hand to carry out some much-needed tree planting at Tom’s Bridge Reserve, near Yallourn North yesterday.

Representatives of Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network, EnergyAustralia, Latrobe City and Newborough and Morwell Park primary schools met at the neglected reserve to plant 1000 native trees and shrubs to celebrate World Environment Day.

LCLN coordinator Megan Hughes said the planting was carried out to prevent soil erosion, which diminished the water quality of the neighbouring Latrobe River.

“It’s never really looked like a reserve; there’s hardly any vegetation and the banks are eroding because of it,” Ms Hughes said.

“We’re planting species endemic to the area which are perfect for stabilising the bank, but will also provide shelter and a food source for wildlife and carbon sequestration.”

EnergyAustralia senior environment manager Ray French, whose company sponsored the day and provided 15 volunteers, said he felt it was an important area to improve because it was well-used and enjoyed by the community.

Closer to the river bank West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority community waterway officer Matt Khoury supervised a team of 16 grade five and six students who assessed the health of the waterway and contributed to the tree-planting.

“On Tuesday the kids were at Narracan Creek testing the water quality there after they were introduced to river and catchment health… later (on Wednesday) we will compare the sites and see which might be healthier,” Mr Khoury said.

“In this program we are training the kids to become river health management leaders, to understand river systems and be mentors to the other students… and help to raise community awareness.”

Newborough Primary school students Rahni and Kristin said they learned, when planting the trees, the hole needed to be “deep, but not too deep” and the purpose of the cardboard and plastic protecting the plants.

“The cardboard is to stop weeds from getting to the plant and the nets are to stop the rubbish getting in,” Rahni said.

Morwell Park Primary school students Blake, Sarah and Blair said they were helping the environment, while trying not to get their feet wet testing the water quality of the river.

“We were testing the water’s turbidity and pH levels and for phosphorous and we looked for macroinvertebrates, which are tiny water bugs,” Blake said.