The Rio Tinto Earth Assist program engages students in a state-wide program in nature based activities focused on practical conservation, environmental awareness and sustainability. It is run by Conservation Volunteers Australia in conjunction with the Department of Education, the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Rio Tinto.
In 2016 the program had students complete marine and riverine debris surveys to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment and subsequently minimise the deaths of marine animals. In November 2016, 27 students in Year 6 at Spearwood Primary School met at the popular John Graham Reserve, Woodman Point to learn about the impacts of marine debris from Craig Wilson, Perth National Resource Management Coastal and Marine Program Manager. The Woodman Point Regional Park marks the northern most point of Cockburn Sound. It has a unique coastline and the most extensive stands of Rottnest Cyprus found anywhere on the mainland.
Students were able to put into perspective why this work is so important and how they all can contribute to protecting our pristine coast. The students conducted a marine debris survey in accordance with methodology specified by the Tangaroa Blue Foundation; a national organisation that aims to identify sources of marine pollution. They categorised and disposed of the rubbish they found along a 1.5 kilometre stretch, collecting a total of 10 kilograms of rubbish!
Rio Tinto Earth Assist Team Leader, Amy Robey, identified bird species and discussed the myriad of animals and plants that call this environment home. As the school day came to an end, students noted that small pieces of plastic made up the bulk of their collection, and this was their main concern.
Rio Tinto works with primary schools and high schools throughout WA to engage students in environmental conservation activities, with projects occurring during term time and the school holidays.
To find out more or register your school’s interest in the Rio Tinto Earth Assist program, please email [email protected] or call (08) 9335 2777.