Students take to the fields to learn about reef health

July 3, 2018

Tully State High School students visit Ray Zamora's cane farm

Ray Zamora's cane farm

Tully State High School with Peter Salleras at Fruit Forest Farm

The Salleras's Fruit Forest Farm

Farms have become classrooms for Tully State High School students learning about water catchment health and ways to reduce impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

Year 9 geography students took water samples and saw first-hand the results of innovative farming practices – from making bio-fertilisers and growing fallow crops to creating wetlands that act as water filters on farmland.

The visits also gave students an insight into a major Reef water quality project that is being implemented in the Tully and Johnstone catchments. The Queensland Government is investing up to $15 million in the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project or MIP – a program led by a consortium of over 40 organisations and designed by hundreds of people from the community.

The project includes trialling and monitoring on-farm bioreactors, wetlands and sediment basins as ways to reduce pollutant loads entering the Great Barrier Reef, and the introduction of a ‘Reef Credits’ system that will be similar to carbon credits.

The MIP’s Basin Coordinator in the Tully region, Fiona George, said trips to farms brought home the relevance and links to students of sustainable land management practices and healthy waterways.

“We visited Ray Zamora’s cane farm and then Peter and Allison Salleras at Fruit Forest Farm and learned about the different practices these growers have adopted over the years to minimise environmental impact,’’ she said.

Ms George also spoke to students about the importance of the whole community working together to improve water quality.

Tully State High School Geography teacher Olivia Brewster said it was a great way for students to learn about the roles land managers can play in looking after the Great Barrier Reef.

“We’re all part of the system and we all make an impact – it’s not just farmers or just consumers,’’ she said. “Students learnt about sustainability, land management, food security and how to ensure we have a future in this wonderful region we live in.”

For more information about the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project, visit www.terrain.org.au/mip. If you or your school would like to get involved, contact Fiona George on 0488 702 203 (Tully) or Sandra Henrich 0439 916 749 (Johnstone).