A REGION devastated by bushfires has become a unique learning hub for horticulture students.
Students at a South Australian vocational college, called TAFE in Australia, have the opportunity to help the communities impacted by the damage caused by the Samson Flat bushfires earlier this year.
TAFE South Australia’s Conservation and Horticulture program along with Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges and ForestrySA are assisting with the bushfire recovery efforts by offering two innovative courses with a focus on bushfire recovery and garden revival.
Giles Goldney, TAFE SA lecturer, teaching a class in the Kersbrook Forest shed.
In January, the Sampson Flat bushfires raged out of control and had a serious impact on the landowners and natural resources in the region just outside of the capital city of Adelaide. Over six days the bushfires burned through over 12,500 hectares of land, destroying farms and 27 homes.
South Australian Minister for Forests, Leon Bignell said the total cost to the community was in the millions of dollars.
“ForestrySA has worked with TAFE to turn the devastating fire into a positive for the community,” he said.
Principal Lecturer of TAFE SA, Peter Clark says both courses have been very successful and are being run in the devastated Kersbrook Forest.
“ForestrySA have helped us tremendously with providing a venue in the centre of where the fire ground was,” he said.
The Kersbrook Forest Shed, which is also being used as the base for volunteer and community programs, has been provided for use by ForestrySA, along with a trailer for tools and staff to assist students with training and supervision.
The garden revival course helps students redesign their gardens to make them safer in bushfire conditions.
Both courses provide students with a full Certificate II in Horticulture along with practical bushfire recovery training to assist with the Sampson Flat bushfire recovery.
Students who are participating in the courses undergo training in affected areas of the Kersbrook Forest, helping the local community with recovery efforts.
The course focuses on working with trees that have been damaged by the fires. The students learn safe chainsaw operation, tree felling, erosion control, and fence construction and repair.
“The Sampson Flat bushfire devastated and shocked South Australians,” Employment, Higher Education and skills Minister Gail Gago said.
“It is fantastic to see students putting their skills into practice and helping out. Not only will the students make a real difference in the recovery effort, they will get valuable training.”
Forestry students undergo training in safe chainsaw operation and tree felling in bushfire affected areas.
The garden revival course provides students with a different range of skills to help assist in recovery efforts.
The students currently participating in the course are residents of the Sampson Flat area.
Students learn how to redesign gardens to make them safer, plant identification, how to control weeds through the safe use of chemicals, erosion control, and the safe use of machinery.
Lecturer Pat Wake says the garden revival course helps people understand how to plant a garden to keep their property safe and prevent any future damage from fires.
“It’s contributing to those people that were affected by the fires in one way or another. Whether they lost whole properties, and what they might put back in there once they’ve re-established, or people that have lost part or all of their garden,” she said.
“There were a lot of people who lost their actual gardens, their vegetable gardens and their flower gardens, or their lawns and things like that. So it’s been helping people look at what they can put back into those areas.”
Both courses are funded by the South Australian government’s Skills For All initiative, and are offered fee-free to eligible participants.