This week, Year 12 Geography Student Jayden Walsh received a high distinction for the Brock Rowe Senior Geography Fieldwork Competition. With over a thousand projects submitted across Australia this is an outstanding achievement. Each student in Senior Geography is required to complete a major research project as apart of the HSC course, which the College then enters the best three into the competition. Jayden’s report was ‘an investigation on the abundance of rainforest species in Purrungully Woodland’.
Jayden had seen through his volunteer and paid Bushcare work that local rainforest species were slowly invading the Endangered Ecological Community near his house. As part of his fieldwork investigation, and the criteria for the award he expertly used quadrat sampling methods and interviewed local residents for the primary data for his project. Through the primary data he collected he used formulas to work out the density, abundance, average plants per site, and composition percentage of the rainforest plants as well as the locals opinion and understanding of the significance of the endangered bushland adjacent to them.
- Illawarra Lowland Grassy Woodland local plant communities have adapted to fire and is a critical part reproduction.
- Rainforest invaders have begun to dominate and germinate as the natural barrier of fire has been removed.
- Fire regimes have been changed throughout the region because of risk agriculture and urban development.
- Too much understory growth from infrequent fires can threaten smothering patches of Pterostylis gibbosa, a local endangered orchid.
- Overall Average Composition of Rainforest Plants was 9.42%.
- There is an estimated 74970 local plants within Purrungully Woodland.
- There is an estimated 8505 rainforest plants within the woodland.
- Purrungully’s local plants had a density of 476000 plants every km².
- The rainforest population within had a density of 54000 Plants every km²
- A natural fire regime through controlled burning needs to be restored to promote biodiversity of local species and provide a natural filter for germinating species.
- Trees like Acacia mearnsii are less present in ILGW communities due to the poor fire regime. Controlled burns would encourage more beneficial trees to reproduce
- 87% of residents used Purrungully woodland recreationally.
- Only 13% recognised Purrungully as a significant endangered ecological community.
- There is a large gap in knowledge of the importance of local ecosystems around us.
- 82.6% of residents were okay with burns taking place