THE Western Australia College of Agriculture at Denmark, a coastal town 423 km southeast of Perth, has supported a Responsible Wood Community Grant application by land care group Green Skills to upgrade a wetland education and farm forestry site at the college, a 560-ha working farm and educational facility for Year 10, 11 and 12 students.

Over the past 26 years the college has worked in partnership with Green Skills to manage and develop the site for wetland education and farm forestry.

“The wetland provides a real-life experience for our students studying a Cert II Conservation and Ecosystem Management and those undertaking a Cert II Forest Operations, college principal Rebecca Kirkwood said.

“The upgrade will provide great learning opportunities for our staff and students,” Mrs Kirkwood said.

“Green Skills is allocating staff, including myself, to directly assist with coordinating and facilitating the different components of the upgrade, which includes liaising with college staff as well as contractors.”

Responsible Wood-certified PF Olsen (Aus) Pty Ltd has encouraged college students to participate in course work that has included planting trees in Responsible Wood certified plantations over the past few years.

“Students involved in the forestry program are provided with hands-on plantation management work experience,” PF Olsen’s Western Australian regional manager, Stewart Tutton said.

The grants were awarded to five community groups.

“In December 2021, Responsible Wood announced the successful recipients from the 2021-22 Community Grants Program for collaborative community projects, activities or events that connect communities to Responsible Wood certified forests,” project manager Megan Graham said.

Reflecting on the quality of applications, Megan added: “In total we received 18 applications with every state represented – a 50% increase both in total and value of applicants from last year,” Megan said.

“We were really pleased by the number, quality, and creativity of applications from across Australia.”

Applications were assessed by an expert panel including Dr Hans Drielsma, AM, chair, Responsible Wood, David Rowlinson, Make It Wood campaign manager at Planet Ark and Lou Coutts, external relations manager at HVP Plantations.

Green Skills Inc an innovative non-profit organisation formed in 1989, develops and manages environmental and community projects across Perth and regional Western Australia and is a driver of change towards a more sustainable community.

“Our mission is to promote and demonstrate sustainability in action through employment opportunities and on-ground training and research,” senior projects manager Basil Schur said.

The wetlands centre consists of a public recreation site with picnic tables, toilet, wetland boardwalk, information panel, dieback hygiene station, rainwater tank and walk trail to a bird hide.

Meanwhile, an active program of silviculture and weed control has been under way since the first term with college students led by vocational trainer Albert Adams and supported by local company Ecologic Tree Service.

Responsible Wood sustainability manager Matt de Jongh met with attendees from the college on the wetlands site.

“The project has allowed an upgrade to the wetland centre and farm forestry site, as well as increasing the awareness and understanding of farm forestry within the local community,” Mr de Jongh said.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to meet with the recipients and see first-hand how the program is progressing. The students were very enthusiastic about the results and have a new appreciation of the value of trees on farms.”


MAIN PIC: Getting together in a pine forest at Denmark College’s wetland site… Year 11 conservation and ecosystem management student Clem Giblett, Travis Freeguard, Bronz Tarpay (kneeling), Yasmine Pages, Chanel Lowe and Will Smith with Kelsey Johnson, PF Olsen, Albert Adams, forestry trainer at the college, Anthony Wise, PF Olsen, and Matt de Jongh, Responsible Wood.