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Students get creative to protect endangered wildlife

Cessnock East Public School's winners of the Biodiversity Brochure Competition, coordinated by Hunter Local Land Services (LLS), will be announced today (Thursday, 27 November).

The school was one of two that recently participated in the competition, which provided an opportunity for students to design their own brochure to educate their local community on the importance of protecting critical wildlife habitats in the Hunter.

Winners will be announced at a special ceremony at the school tomorrow at 9am.

Hunter LLS Project Officer Susan Morley said the competition aimed to educate students and the wider community about the value and importance of local bushland to sustain species which are threatened with extinction.

'Students have used their creative skills to design educational brochures to help raise awareness about the habitat value of the forests around Cessnock,' Ms Morley said.

'Many people don't realise that Cessnock is pretty special when it comes to sustaining threatened species. The local bushland may not look like much, but in scientific terms Cessnock is actually a biodiversity "hot spot".'

'Most importantly the area supports endangered Swift Parrots, which fly from Tasmania every winter, and critically endangered Regent Honeyeaters, which also visit and breed on the valley floor. These species depend on the increasingly rare Lower Hunter Spotted Gum - Ironbark forests of the area'.

'This type of forest has been extensively cleared since European settlement.'

'The students have done a fantastic job with their brochures, explaining why we need to look after remaining habitat to prevent extinctions and encouraging people to become involved in threatened species recovery projects,' she said.

The winning students will be awarded with educational prizes by representatives from Hunter LLS.

'We were very impressed with the wonderful work completed by the students, however there can only be one winner per school. The winning brochure for each school will be printed and distributed amongst the school community, a novel way of raising community awareness in the area.'

The competition is an initiative of Hunter LLS, and was made possible through support from the NSW Environmental Trust as part of the Cessnock Biodiversity Management Plan, developed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

The plan focuses on threatened species conversation across the valley floor of the Cessnock local government area, which is home to at least 65 threatened entities, including 46 animal species and 10 plant species.

Competition winners from St Patricks Primary School Cessnock will also be announced shortly.

Contact Jillian Ayre (Mon, Tues, Wed) 02 4938 4932 or Mobile 0418 960 817.