On Monday, 28 March, the Year 9 Semester 1 Geography classes travelled to Toolangi State Forest. In collaboration with educators from the Gould League, the purpose of the field trip was to gather primary data to support and extend the Year 9 Geography course at Siena and in particular, the topic of Biomes and Food Security.
At Toolangi, students worked in groups, collecting a variety of data at different sites for subsequent comparison. The sites studied were a section of Mountain Ash Forest and an area which had formerly been forested but was recently logged.
Using appropriate technology and equipment, students recorded data on soil temperature, soil pH, air temperature, wind velocity and light levels. All data collected was taken back to class for analysis. In their fieldwork report submissions, students described the apparent effects of logging on a temperate forest environment, and they also made predictions and suggestions for the future of such regions.
The field trip was very successful. Students gained valuable insights into a much debated example of interaction between humans and the natural environment. They also saw and measured first hand, the impacts that timber harvesting can have on a temperate forest ecosystem.
Students were accompanied by Year 9 Geography teachers Sam Ribeiro and Alan Anderson. Many thanks to Head of Humanities, Jessica Sullivan, and English and Humanities teacher, Henrich Galam, who also accompanied students on the day.
Here are some student reflections on their field trip experience:
“I really enjoyed the Geography field trip to Toolangi. It was a chance for me to explore a forest/temperate biome, something which I am not very familiar with. Getting to see a forest biome in person is very beneficial towards my learning on different biomes in Geography. I learned a lot from the experience, in particular the impact that logging has on animals' habitats and the environment. It was so interesting to compare a forest that was logged to a forest that had not been logged, as I got to understand how logging negatively impacted the forest. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and would do it again if the opportunity arises.”
”Something important I learned from the field trip was about the logging coupe. Clear fell logging is when all vegetation is removed from an area of a forest for wood. This is bad for the environment as sometimes trees fail to grow after logging. Another thing I learned was that when there are less trees, the soil becomes less moist, which affects the growth of new trees. It was a fun filled experience navigating the forest, as well as learning about the Mountain Ash trees and the endangered animals living in Toolangi.”
"I really enjoyed the whole field trip, but one of the things that stood out for me as a highlight was walking through the stunning Mountain Ash forest with my class and our guide, Jan, while learning all about the flora and fauna in the area. When recording data, my group was assigned to record the sunlight and shade via an app on the guide's phone. It was very interesting and fun to find the different shaded spots under the trees' canopy. I learnt so much about the Mountain Ash forest and the logging coupe! One of the most interesting facts that I learnt was that the Mountain Ash tree actually requires bush fires to thrive and survive, as its seeds can only sprout when they have been scorched in a fire at a certain temperature, which can only be naturally produced by a bush fire. If there are no bush fires, then there will be no Mountain Ash trees in our environment!
Also, did you know that when you are warding off snakes in the environment by creating vibrations with your footsteps, you are actually attracting leeches from the hanging branches? Much to the dismay of my classmates! Overall, I really enjoyed the Year 9 Geography Biomes field trip. I gained many new experiences and learnt many valuable and fascinating pieces of information."
"On 28 March 2022, the Year 9 Geography classes went to the Toolangi State Forest. We split up into groups between our classes with a tour guide to investigate the forest. Throughout the day, I learnt how parts of the forest had been affected badly by logging, which in turn affected the wildlife that lives there, including the endangered Leadbeater’s possums in the old/dead trees.
I also learnt that the trees that were being logged are used for many other things, other than paper and furniture. One thing that I found very interesting was how trees and shrubs can impact the growth of other plants and the richness of soil. Overall, I enjoyed going to the Toolangi State Forest and conducting different types of research that I have never done before. It was a very calming area, and it was very beautiful. I enjoyed being outside and walking through the forest with my class. I enjoyed the view when we were driving up to the forest because I have never been there before, so it was a whole new experience."