Blackheath students are helping to keep a rare species alive

Blackheath Public School students could hardly contain their excitement as they became the first people ever to cultivate the endangered species Zieria covenyi.

Rare plant: Students at Blackheath Public School with the first plants of the endangered Zieria covenyi.

Rare plant: Students at Blackheath Public School with the first plants of the endangered Zieria covenyi.

The stage two students have spent the last few weeks learning about biodiversity and endangered species, and the important role they are now playing to protect this endangered plant.

Only around 2000 of this species remain in the wild, in just two locations: at Narrow Neck in Katoomba and Breakfast Creek in the Megalong Valley. Last week, the students planted 20 in the school grounds.

Michaela Jones, senior project officer for NSW National Parks' saving our species program, said the school was the first to plant these rare scented plants as part of an insurance policy in the event of fire in the Blue Mountains.

"Schools are often the safest places for plants to grow because they are usually less at risk during a fire event and plants are generally more protected from macropods like kangaroos and wallabies. We have Chris Banffy, a Blackheath ranger, to thank for this brilliant idea," she said.

The plants are from the Rutaceae or citrus family and have been grown from cuttings at the Australian Botanic Garden at Mt Annan. They have also set seed for the first time - the seeds will be safeguarded in a seedbank.

More plants will soon be cultivated at Megalong School, Katoomba High and Wentworth Falls Public School.

  • From The Big Fix, www.thebigfixblackheath.org