On Tuesday 4 April Year 10 Geography students enjoyed a field trip to investigate the nature and value of urban wetlands. To further the students’ knowledge and understanding of these ecosystems they undertook fieldwork in two wetland areas; Urrbrae Wetlands in Mitcham and Oaklands Wetlands and Reserve in Marion. A tour of the Urrbrae Wetlands by scientist and former Walford parent, Vanessa Greenslade, was an excellent opportunity to consolidate the girls’ understanding of the role of wetlands in purifying water and flood mitigation. Our first task was to collect water samples across the wetlands and test them for temperature, turbidity, salinity, phosphates, nitrates, pH and oxygen levels.  Our aim was to determine if the wetlands were cleaning the stormwater from the local catchment area. Our second task was to examine the biodiversity of the aquatic macro-invertebrates in the ponds. Using nets, girls worked to collect samples before investigating them under microscopes and recording species and density data. At Oaklands, they had a tour and learnt about the cultural importance of wetlands for Indigenous people and how the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains utilised the area, then how, with the arrival of the Europeans land use has changed over the past two centuries. These critical ecosystems are under pressure globally and it is estimated that since European arrival in South Australia we have lost up to 70% of our wetlands. It is experiences like these that stay with students for many years and excursions provide them with opportunities to immerse themselves into a variety of environments, the conservation of which will be crucial, not only to human well-being, but the life of the planet itself.

Stephen Rate

Year 10 Geography Teacher