Good health naturally

July 6, 2010

Members of the Bush Rangers cadet unit from Emmanuel Catholic College in Success have joined a team from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in planting 800 local seedlings to revegetate degraded bushland in Beeliar Regional Park.

Plants and other materials were paid for using part of $40,000 in funding provided by the Fiona Stanley Hospital project in 2010 to promote healthy community activities in areas such as Beeliar Regional Park which is managed by DEC.

The wetland species, planted by the 35 year 8, 9 and 10 students in an area around Kogolup Lake, included swamp banksia (Banksia littoralis), swamp paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia), flooded gum (Eucalyptus rudis) and stout paperbark (Melaleuca pressiana).

Planting these species within the park will ensure a healthier environment, increase biodiversity and provide food sources and habitat for a variety of native fauna, including Carnaby’s black cockatoo.

Emmanuel Catholic College Bush Rangers coordinator Marie French said that a healthy school environment depended not just on the immediate physical environment, such as the school buildings and grounds, but also on the features of the surrounding area.

"The college is fortunate to be next to Kogolup Lake in Beeliar Regional Park, where the health benefits of contact with nature are available to all staff and students," Ms French said.

"In fact, virtually everyone in the school is involved in creating a healthier school environment by using the natural bushland for a range of activities, including as an outdoor classroom."

DEC’s Healthy Parks, Healthy People Coordinator Cathy Gazey said that by being involved in the revegetation the students were not just ensuring the health of our natural environment but were also planting the seeds for a healthy future.

"The location of the park near the school provides students with a low-cost option for physical activity and contact with the natural world which is particularly important with the growing number of overweight children," Ms Gazey said.

"Attractive and accessible green spaces contribute positive physical, social and mental health benefits and provide options for volunteering.

"During their revegetation efforts the students achieved some healthy physical activity, mental relaxation and restoration. Our beautiful natural areas are essential for public health and wellbeing and our quality of life, so healthy parks really do make healthy people."

In recognition that healthy natural areas help deliver a sustainable, healthy and prosperous community, the Department of Health through the Fiona Stanley Hospital project will provide $160,000 over the next four years for these types of activities in regional parks in Perth’s southern suburbs. The funds will be managed and distributed by DEC under its Healthy Parks, Healthy People program.