The TERN SuperSites network has goals relating to Scientific, Education and Public Outreach outcomes.
The scientific goals relate to enabling a better understanding of continental scale ecology through long-term and intensive ecosystem studies at SuperSite locations across Australia that provide calibration and validation to remote sensing technologies and assist TERN to engage the scientific community with continental scale datasets.
The SuperSite education goals are to provide infrastructure and tools for students and educators that allow rich and diverse training opportunities for the next generation of ecological and ecosystem scientists.
Public outreach activities aim to promote public understanding of ecosystem sciences and the various Australian biomes studied by the SuperSites. Long-term data collected at the SuperSites will enable natural resource managers and the public, make informed decisions on ecological issues at local to continental scales.
Education Activities Across the TERN SuperSites
Education activities across the SuperSites range from secondary school and undergraduate field trips and internships to postgraduate research undertaken in the geographic boundary of the SuperSites.
The Daintree node of the FNQ Rainforest SuperSite at Cape Tribulation is collocated with James Cook University’s Daintree Rainforest Observatory that provides facilities for educators, researchers and students. Modern teaching and conference facilities are suitable for university and school group activities. A number of pre-prepared curriculum-linked resources are available for teachers, and the DRO can also offer an education facilitator to enhance students' learning experiences.
In 2013, 2015 and 2016 students from Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne travelled to the Daintree (Cape Tribulation) node of FNQ Rainforest SuperSite for some hands-on ecosystem science. They participated in the collection of a range of data designed to profile rainforest structure, the growth rates of rainforest tree species, the species composition of bird populations in the rainforest, and the distribution and abundance of fungi. This school aims to re-visit the site every two years with new students and accumulate their own time series data.
The Daintree node at Cape Tribulation also regularly hosts international undergraduate groups from the American University International Program as well as high school groups from the USA.
At Calperum Mallee SuperSite, education and capacity building are high priority activities for the site managers, Australian Landscape Trust. In 2009-2010, they supported delivery of over 3,100 person-days of accredited training - either with its own staff and resources or through partnerships with other organisations.
Wide-ranging educational activities include:
- Primary and Secondary school camps and day trips, including support for lesson planning and delivery (recently Norlunga Highschool, Brighton Highschool, Cornerstone College, Thomas Moore Highschool).
- Hosting undergraduate University and TAFE field trips (including eco-tourism, biodiversity and conservation subjects from Flinders University and environmental management and ecology subjects from La Trobe University.
- Support for postgraduate research students carrying out fieldwork on site.
- Occasional training workshops for volunteers and community members.
- Hosting International Student Volunteers from the USA and Canada over their summer holidays.
- Traineeships for Riverland Aboriginal Rangers in Conservation and Land Management.
In 2015 the Chaffey Learning Exchange project was launched to establish strong pathway and delivery networks between education, business and research that will in turn deliver online courses, specialised curriculum and agri-research and entrepreneurship networks to generate innovation and diversification.
The project has four key themes:
- Development of land management capabilities responsive to opportunities from the Dining Boom and climate adaptation
- Integrated education curriculum and courses (including co-learning hubs to support online learning) that will create local career pathways, address labour market shortages, build capacity within the region, and position regional education as a viable export
- Entrepreneurship hubs to drive innovation
- An applied research hub to inform economic development
The Chaffey Learning Exchange Project is supported by the Australian Government and the Government of South Australia through the SA River Murray Sustainability Program and a range of partners including the Australian Landscape Trust.
At Charles Darwin University in Darwin, a number of undergraduate courses have utilised Litchfield Savanna SuperSite to train undergraduate and postgraduate students in remote-sensing techniques. Students are taught the same field data sampling techniques as those used by TERN researchers, enabling the students to play a role much greater than simply collecting data needed for their studies. Using standard methods on permanent transects means that the data the students collect at the supersite can be added to the SuperSite's data collection.
At Credo Station, within the Great Western Woodlands SuperSite a new facility multi-purpose filed studies centre was opened in Oct 2013 for educators and scientists. This new infrastructure is used by researchers and for educating school groups and the public by providing evidence-based interpretive information that can be used for further study.
The Victorian Dry Eucalypt SuperSite hosts postgraduate research projects and University of Melbourne postgraduate subjects within the Master of Environment and Master of Forest and Ecosystem Science stream.
The Warra Tall Eucalypt SuperSite is used for school educational activities through the National Forest Learning Centre that offers field trips to a range of forest sites including the Warra SuperSite, to Primary and Secondary School groups. Links to the Australian Curriculum Science can be found here:
Public Outreach Activities
Citizen Scientists and Volunteering
Plans are underway to increase opportunities for citizen scientists to contribute to datasets collected at the SuperSites, with more in development.
Conservation Volunteers Australia have a partnership with the FNQ Rainforest SuperSite, providing a volunteer tourism program at the DRO. Volunteers take part in a range of monitoring and site management activities.
The EarthWATCH Institute is developing volunteering opportunities at the SuperSites for 2014 and beyond that will allow volunteers to experience the unique environments and contribute to scientific data collection at the sites.
ClimateWatch trails are in development at some of the SuperSites which will enable casual citizen scientists to contribute to phenological and biodiversity datasets using dedicated apps developed for each location. The Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre ClimateWatch trail will provide valuable data to compare with what is collected at the nearby FNQ Rainforest SuperSite at Robson Creek. The Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre is a Queensland state government-run centre in Far North Queensland with a 25 year history of providing education on land care, outdoor pursuits and sustainability.
The Calperum Mallee SuperSite is located on Calperum station and managed by the Australian Landscape Trust. All of the rehabilitation and management programs rely on the willingness of community members to volunteer their time and effort in support. Over more than a decade of shared management responsibility, volunteers have consistently donated around 10, 000 hours a year to looking after Calperum and neighbouring Taylorville Stations.
At the Calperum Mallee SuperSite, the Australian Landscape Trust runs a number of programs in partnership with community volunteers including a Paddock Adoption Scheme where groups of community volunteers take responsibility for managing sections of the property performing tasks such as feral animal control and infrastructure maintenance.
There is a long tradition of volunteer involvement in the maintenance and research monitoring at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory.
Some SuperSites have associated public education facilities including the McCormick Centre for the Environment associated with Calperum Mallee SuperSite. Managed by Australian Landscapes Trust under an agreement with the Renmark Paringa Council to provide a regional hub for environmental education and eco-tourism. Facilities include a 115-seat lecture theatre, research and teaching laboratories, catering facilities, a reception area for functions, rooms for meetings and offices.
The Centre runs a diverse program of exhibitions and activities, as well as providing a base from which community groups can operate.
The FNQ Rainforest SuperSite Daintree node encompasses the Daintree Research Observatory, Cape Tribulation and the nearby Daintree Discovery Centre at Cow Bay that provides interpretative information to the public and also hosts SuperSite instrumentation and a study plot.
Since Warra was established as a long-term ecological research site in 1995, the site has been extensively used for undergraduate studies and post graduate research projects. Over 80 graduate and undergraduate students have undertaken projects at Warra. This site is used by local and international universities including the University of Tasmania which uses Warra for components of the undergraduate Field Botany course and in February 2016, students from Carleton College, Minnesota, USA conducted field studies there as part of an international ecology course.
The Warra Tall Eucalypt SuperSite is nearby to the Tahune AirWalk that provides a visitor centre, accommodation and a range of nature based activities. There are plans to expand interpretative displays in conjunction with the SuperSite.
Many community organisations are actively involved in conservation and rehabilitation activities at different SuperSites. The Victorian Dry Eucalypt SuperSite has groups involved with both Whroo and Wombat forest nodes including: