South Padbury Primary School
Where restoration, science and people connect.
This project will see school children planting a Miyawaki forest at their school in a northern Perth suburb. The forest will be planted as part of a dedicated science project run through the Harry Butler Institute at Murdoch University and as an outreach project for school children.
The forest will be planted at South Padbury Primary school on 22 July 2021, and will be the first Miyawaki to be planted at a school in Australia and the first forest of its kind in Western Australia, using the unique plants that are endemic to this region, a recognised global biodiversity hotspot.
Forest Maker Dr Grey Coupland
“The forest at South Padbury Primary school will be comprised of 26 local species, including iconic grass trees, as well as the well known eucalyptus and banksia species. There will be a narrow walkway through the centre of the forest to allow the children to feel surrounded and enclosed by the forest as it matures.”
— Dr. Grey Coupland
Forest Report: 1 Year
Survival Rate: 87%
Average of Tallest 3 Trees: 202cm
The pocket forest at South Padbury Primary survived the hottest summer Perth has experienced since records began in 1897. Perth experienced successive heat waves during the 2021-2022 summer, with 13 days at or above 40C. The maximum temperature recorded during this time was 44.5C. This hot summer period resulted in forest plant mortality, as some of the less resilient species, typically the Hakea and Banksia species, were quite literally cooked by the heat. The forest was 5 to 6 months old during this time.
By 12 months the forest had recovered, and has now formed a dense close canopy, providing habitat for a wide range of different organisms. This is providing great enrichment for the South Padbury pupils;as of September 2022, students had observed over 1100 organisms in this pocket forest.
The forest had a beautiful flowering season this spring. The abundance of the flowers was quite breathtaking, and personally I have not observed this density of flowering on individual plants in native bushland. It was truly remarkable. Some of the plants flowering included Dodonea hackettiana (coastal hopbush), Scaevola nitida (shining fanflower), Conostylis candicans (cotton head), Guichenotia ledifolia and even the slow growing Allocasuarina fraseriana (western sheoak)
In November 2022 as we come into the warmer weather, the forest floor is cooler as it is now shaded by a dense canopy. This will protect the forest from some of the heat forecast for the coming summer. Last December (2021) when the children were taking their monthly air and soil temperature measurements on a 30C day, the soil inside the forest (below the hay mulch layer at a depth of 5-10 cm) was on average 25.3C compared to outside the forest 31.1C. This highlights that pocket forests have great potential to provide localised cooling in urban areas.
Many insects and small fauna spotted, including various species of caterpillar, butterfly, small reptiles, lizards, praying mantis, kaddydids, moths, ants, and at least six spider species.
Forest Report: Planting
Why South Padbury Primary School?
The school outreach program involves not only teaching children about the Miyawaki method and planting the forest with them, but also provides lessons on urban sustainability issues, climate change and urban greening. The children will be conducting monthly monitoring of the forest as citizen scientists for at least the first two years, and will assess plant growth rates, animal diversity and temperature regimes within and outside the forest. In addition, Grey will also be conducting a dedicated science research project alongside the children, investigating soil microbial activity, soil diversity using eDNA, and plant and animal diversity.