EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
Forests provide essential habitats for wildlife, act as carbon sinks, make and catch the rain, host myriad plant species many with medicinal qualities and prevent erosion. Trees communicate and support each other using underground networks. Forests are also a source of many useful products and are an important part of society and the economy. They are also one of the most complex ecosystems on earth, so it is not surprising that they are a hub for research and education, and the southwest forests of Western Australia are no exception. This page will be regularly updated with links to forest research and education.
Suzanne Simard's describes her 30 year study of how trees communicate, including over great distances in this fascinating 18 min Ted Talk (2016).
Society and Cultural Education
The Noongar people are the traditional owners and custodians of the south-west of Western Australia. There are a number of Cultural sites of significance in the South West Boojarah region, including caves, some of which are the homes of mythological beings, ceremonial sites, rock art, paintings and artefacts. These include the Nannup Caves, Jewel Cave, Devil’s Lair and a Birthing Lake.
The Noongar people have traditionally used native plants in a variety of ways to cure sickness. Some plants are crushed, heated and applied to skin. Others are boiled and inhaled, and occasionally drunk. There are saps that are directly smeared on skin and barks that are smoked or burned. With the rise of western medicine, many of the oral traditions surrounding bush medicine have been lost, however with the advent of anti bacterial resistance and other inherent problems, researchers at UWA working in conjunction with Noongar elders are looking at this area in a new light.
We know that forests are a major carbon sink, and play a vital role in the carbon and water cycles. However the mechanisms of this and the specific details of the role that trees play is still little understood. Colin Tudge’s book ‘The Secret Life of Trees’ gives a fascinating overview and history on the evolution, complexity and history of trees. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/nov/26/featuresreviews.guardianreview3
The forests provide a valuable education tool for children in the South West. Lesley Dewar, children's author and educator, uses the forest and the animals that depend on it, as inspiration for her work. She says “Without vibrant, healthy forests, our wildlife cannot survive. Forests are essential as food sources for our wildlife and they need protection from logging." Lesley’s book, ‘Hey Dude! Who Moved My Gumnuts?’ teaches children about Cockatoos and their habitats, and is available here.