1500+ trees for Red-tails

Just over two weeks ago seventy six students from Tenison Woods College in Mount Gambier spent a good part of the morning potting over 1500 tubes as part of the school’s latest project to help re-create habitat for one of the region’s most endangered birds, the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

Year 3 Tenison Woods College students planting stringybark seeds for Red-tails.


Earlier this year Tenison Woods College was successful in obtaining funding through the SA NRM Community Grant Program to assist with the establishment of a fully functional school nursery to grow stringybark trees for local Red-tail revegetation projects.

The project, supported by BirdLife Australia, builds on previous small-scale propagation work, and provides school children with a hands-on approach to conservation and recovery activities for the endangered cockatoo. Students are given the opportunity to become involved in all aspects of the propagation and restoration process from seed collection, planting seeds, growing seedlings, and planting out germinated seedlings on site.
Grant funding has now allowed two large galvanised mesh propagating tables and a watering system to be installed within close proximity to the student’s classroom.  At present, the nursery area can support the propagation of up to 2000 trees.
Teachers, Tina Opperman, Francesca Dickson, Monika Kolhoffer and Kirsty Clifford have been extremely enthusiastic and supportive of the project and its development since our first visit to the school back in 2012. Tina and Francesca have been particularly instrumental in driving the project within the school and are thrilled to see the nursery take shape.
Aside from growing much needed food for Red-tails, this project provides a fun and interactive way for students to learn and gain an appreciation for not only Red-tails and their habitat, but for conservation as a whole.

A ‘hands-on’ approach to seed collection and planting

Due to the logistics of taking 76 students into the bush to collect seed from stringybark trees, we decided to re-enact the seed collection process within the classroom environment. Students collected fruit (seed capsules) from branches brought into the classroom, and placed them in labelled brown paper bags. The paper bags were then taped to the classroom windows to hasten the release of seed from capsules.

Over a week later students planted their very own seed consisting of a mix of Brown Stringybark, Messmate Stringybark, Manna Gum, She-oak and Tea-tree. Over 1500 tubes were potted and planted with seed in just over two hours.

The students showed great enthusiasm towards the project, supporting one another to fill tubes with native seed raising mix, plant seeds, organise and label seed trays, and water tubes. As always there were lots of questions, confirming the students’ interest and willingness to learn more about the propagating process.

Over the next seven months germinated seedlings will be cared for by the students, with all germinated seedlings to be planted out at several landholders properties in winter 2014.

If you would like to know more about how your school could become involved in re-creating a better future for Red-tails, please contact Bronwyn Perryman on 1800 262 062 or email

Previous page: Links