A program to teach students about the importance of biodiversity and conservation has launched in Canberra this month.
The Bettong Buddies program, run by the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and supported by Bank Australia, will take hand-raised endangered Eastern Bettongs into schools to educate and inspire students.
The Eastern Bettong has been extinct on mainland Australia for over 100 years. In 2012, 30 Bettongs from Tasmania were reintroduced to a predator-free sanctuary in Canberra, Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary, which is now home to over 200 Bettongs.
Jason Cummings, General Manager of Woodlands and Wetlands Trust said he hopes the program will build a cohort of young Australians who are actively engaged in biodiversity conservation.
“After the successful reintroduction of the Bettong into the sanctuary, we thought it would be an opportunity to extend the story to the broader community,” said Dr Cummings.
“Already our Sanctuary Ecologist is reporting the transformative experience of engaging students with bettongs, taking the students from ‘too cool for school’ to ‘wide-eyed and inspired’.”
The program will introduce students to the concepts of food webs, weeds, feral animals and the unique Australian biodiversity under threat.
Radford College in Bruce is the first school to adopt Bettong Buddies. Principal, Mrs Fiona Godfrey, said the school was thrilled to be the first to experience the program.
“Actually being able to see the nocturnal Bettong is very special and gives our students a hands-on and inspirational lesson in conservation and the importance of protecting endangered Australian species.”
In September 2015, Bank Australia, through its Impact Fund, announced an investment of $90,000 over three years to support the work in protecting the Eastern Bettong.
Bank Australia Managing Director, Damien Walsh, said every year the bank invests up to 4 per cent of its profits in initiatives that have positive outcomes for our society and our planet.
“As a customer owned responsible bank, we make investments on behalf of our customers in areas we know they care about. Conservation is one of those areas, so by banking with us, they are investing in this program,” said Mr Walsh.
For more information on the program visit www.bettongs.org.
Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary is managed in a partnership between the ACT Government and the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust.
Carly Wright, Bank Australia
0402 425 121
Jason Cummings, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust
0428 460 004