A GROUP of environmentally-aware Daylesford College students is planning to create a forest for the whole community to enjoy, on currently unused land near their school.
A carbon sink is a natural reservoir which absorbs more carbon than it releases and reduces the concentration of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The students plan to develop the carbon sink on three acres of unused land on the school grounds.
The school's Sustainability Coordinator and science teacher, Eirinn Taylor, said the intent was to rejuvenate the land with the goal to offset the school's carbon footprint and to grow a forest the whole community could enjoy.
The plan for the carbon sink was made possible after a group of Year 7 to 12 students, who are part of the college's Green Team, recently received the highly prestigious Sustainable Communities - Tidy Towns 'Gift Fund' award.
As part of this, the students won a grant of $1000, which they will use to remove weeds and purchase stock to start planting the forest.
Ms Taylor said learning about ecosystems and the carbon cycle was embedded in the curriculum from Year 7 through to VCE.
"Students are very knowledgeable about their environment and the climate crisis," Ms Taylor said.
Students are very knowledgeable about their environment and the climate crisisDaylesford College teacher Eirinn Taylor
While a grove of Blackwood trees was planted by staff "many moons ago" students have also planted a number of trees in the past, while the occasional working bee has ensured the site has not become overrun by blackberry bushes or rubbish.
Students in the Green Team researched which species they would plant to create the carbon sink based on species endemic to the area, fire mitigation and the capacity for sequestering carbon.
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As a result, they have decided to plant a range of natives including wattles, blackwood trees and eucalypts.
They will also plant some oak trees for their fire mitigation properties and capacity for carbon storage.
While the Green Team has driven the project, they hope to host a whole school planting day next year.
"The carbon sink is a rich opportunity for science inquiry and I am very proud of the Green Team's commitment to the project," Ms Taylor said.
"The recent experience of online learning has not deterred these young environmental warriors. They are even more determined to 'save the planet' and have a renewed appreciation for their environment."
The Daylesford College Green Team was formed due to students wishing to voice their concerns about the environment and to take action. The students, from years 7-12, volunteer their lunch breaks and occasionally stay after school.
Since first established, they have hosted repair cafes, climate strikes, clean-up and litter wise days, tree plantings and have attended Hepburn Shire Z-NET meetings all while educating peers and the community.
A Keep Victoria Beautiful initiative, the awards recognise and celebrate grassroots initiatives and actions that change behaviour, protect the environment, reduce waste, preserve social well-being, celebrate Indigenous culture and encourage strong leadership, especially among youth.
Keep Victoria Beautiful Tidy Town spokesperson, Dick Gross, said the awards, which have been ongoing since 1983, had acted as an antidote to the pandemic and given communities something to strive towards during "what has been an extremely difficult year".