For over a decade, conservation and land management students have undertaken regular field trips to the north-east of Melbourne to explore Banyule's 380 hectares of natural bushland.
The partnership between RMIT University and Banyule City Council has provided Diploma of Conservation and Land Management students with valuable hands-on experience in environmental preservation.
The students collect and classify many of the area’s 400 species of indigenous plants, as well as undertake restoration projects where rare or threatened species are managed and maintained.
Council rangers guide students to areas where maintenance and protective practices are in place for vulnerable indigenous plant complexes.
Nevil Schultz, from the School of Vocational Engineering, Health and Sciences, describes these areas as “Noah's Ark” sites where native insect, bird, mammal and reptile diversity is high.
At these sites, students can learn about current best practice in high-value conservation for a large range of plants that are classified as rare or threatened by Victoria's Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
Mr Schultz said the partnership with Banyule not only offered students a variety of sites to visit, but also helped shape the curriculum by incorporating the council’s ongoing development and new land management systems.
“Under the management charter of the Banyule City Council, there have been a variety of field opportunities in the urban managed natural environment; in particular, the north-east corridor along the Plenty River and the more southerly linear parks,” he said.
“These areas have presented themselves with some great opportunities for my students in weed management, ecology and plant identification, where in an outdoor classroom situation, students monitor weed invasions and gather data on highly protected and bio-diverse sites.”