Students' blitz for biodiversity

Chris McClure, DOC Herpetologist with Ben from the lizard group

Pest trapping, aerial weed monitoring, weta 'motels', and lizard habitats – these are some of the biodiversity projects year 10 students from Lincoln High School are working on at Māhoe Reserve.

The students developed their own action proposals and presented them to the Māhoe Reserve Committee as part of their Enviroschools Ecoblitz programme.

Science teacher Santhia Hamburg wanted to give her students a hands-on learning experience in an outdoor classroom. With the help of Enviroschools, this idea was developed into a pilot programme that allows students to develop and implement their own biodiversity project.

Enviroschools Facilitator Matt Stanford says, "Traditionally the learning stops once an action plan has been written; students don't normally get to implement the plans. It's so great to see how invested they are – they care because they have ownership from start to finish".

The Ecoblitz programme began in term two when the students met a number of experts from the Department of Conservation, Lincoln University and Environment Canterbury, who introduced them to various monitoring methods.

The students then picked the area they were most interested in and conducted their own monitoring, with the continued guidance of the experts, which they recorded on NatureWatch.

From their findings they developed and presented their plans to the Māhoe Reserve Committee, who accepted all the proposals with some conditions.

Fast forward to the end of term three and the students are almost finished their projects.

They've:

  • Created a treasure-hunt style brochure for kids to spot birds and invertebrates in the reserve
  • Built two hedgehog-proof lizard habitats
  • Set traps for pests such as mice, rats and hedgehogs
  • Tested sustainable, safe substances to kill convolvulus weeds
  • Created a weta information sign and 'weta motel' for kids to find weta
  • Used a drone to monitor weed changes

Matt says, "I think they'll have a real sense of satisfaction having seen the projects right through to the end, it's a programme we'll definitely be doing again".

Enviroschools is a national organisation that empowers students to take sustainable action in their school and wider community. 

The Minister for the Environment recently praised Enviroschools and dished out a significant funding boost so they can keep up the good work.

Environment Canterbury is the coordinating agency for Enviroschools in Canterbury and Andrea Taylor is the coordinator. Find out more on the Enviroschools website or get in touch with Andrea.