Northern Territory school learns from sustainable land management and Indigenous culture

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Synopsis

At remote Mataranka Primary School, students take a keen interest in environmental and economic sustainability, as many are strongly associated with station life where sustainable business is paramount. Incorporating sustainability into the curriculum is therefore an obvious necessity.

In partnership with community groups and businesses, the school has established a forestry plot of 1200 trees to demonstrate a comparative, economically sustainable business. The project has been incorporated into the curriculum as an arboriculture and sustainability subject. Students are directly involved by planting trees, placing species-identifying plaques, establishing a watering system, measuring and recording tree girth and height and collecting seeds.

Students also maintain a bush food garden, where they draw on traditional Jawoyn and Manggarayi knowledge, to grow local native foods. Through this activity, Indigenous students reconnect with their ancestors' traditions and all students learn the nutritional value and different applications of native species. To complement this activity, a book was published about the five Indigenous seasons and related bush food availability.

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