Dirty hands, cooler schools – new tree planting pilot with Adelaide students

Schools across Adelaide’s northern suburbs are set to be transformed into cooler, greener spaces, with Greening Australia expanding its Cooling the Schools initiative to South Australia.

Teachers and students helping create cooler, greener spaces for schools and their local communities in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

As this initiative kicks off in a new state for the first time and planting gets underway, students, teachers, and the local community are helping establish thousands of native plants across eight participating pilot schools.

Adelaide, like many Australian cities, suffers from low canopy cover and high urban heat. The participating schools are combatting this, with their own students planting approximately 1,600 native trees and habitat species in their schoolgrounds in 2022.

These plantings not only lead to cooler spaces and increased biodiversity, but also encourage and empower children to take climate action into their own hands, while creating more inviting areas to learn and play.

Cooling the Schools gets kids involved in their local environment by getting their hands dirty, learning about First Nations culture and making an impact. Credit: Michael Haines.

Already a successful initiative in Sydney with over 50 participating schools, Greening Australia is excited to expand Cooling the Schools to Adelaide with funding from Green Adelaide, delivered in partnership with the City of Playford and Red Centre Enterprises.

Greening Australia’s Deborah Nagloo, who leads the delivery of Cooling the Schools in Adelaide said:

“We’re thrilled to expand Cooling the Schools to Adelaide, having already seen the benefits of this initiative firsthand in Sydney when it comes to combatting urban heat, increasing vegetation, and providing healthier spaces for learning and play.

“We know that the impacts of climate change on nature and in our communities are being increasingly felt and that many young people want to take action themselves. By working together with our Cooling the Schools partners we’re able to give students an opportunity to get their hands dirty helping nature,  while also learning about the cultural significance of their schools through Red Centre Enterprises.”

Uncle Jeffery Newchurch, respected Kaurna Senior Elder, said:

“We’re glad to see the action taken by Greening Australia to include a First Nations perspective. Returning native vegetation back into our urban areas and sharing First Nations Culture and knowledge. We’re looking forward to sharing the significant journey by working in collaboration to improve and care for Country where the children work and play.”

Students from Virginia Primary School in South Australia engaging in First Nations cultural education from Red Centre Enterprises. Credit: Michael Haines.

On the initiative being piloted in the City of Playford, Mayor Glenn Docherty said:

“Greening our city has been a key focus for this council. We know that green spaces are a significant factor for improving liveability and contribute to overall health and wellbeing. It is wonderful to see this philosophy extending from our public spaces into our schools so students can experience the benefits of connecting with nature.

“Our Urban Tree Strategy aims to achieve an increase from 15% to 20% canopy cover by 2045 and the Cooling the Schools initiative complements the work we are doing to green our natural open spaces.”

Students and teachers from Trinity College Gawler River join Greening Australia team members, City of Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty and Red Centre Enterprises for tree-planting and cultural education.

Green Adelaide Presiding Member Professor Chris Daniels said:

“It’s wonderful to see that our Grassroots Grant helped initiate this program to enable more local schools to create a cooler, greener, wilder and more climate resilient metropolitan Adelaide.

“Fostering a love of nature from a young age is so important for lifelong learning, and we’re proud to be partnering with Greening Australia in doing so through our Grassroots Grants.”

Cooling the Schools is part of Greening Australia’s Nature in Cities program.

Cooling the Schools Adelaide