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Xavier College Northern NSW - Field trip to a renewable resource cycle: Forests and Timber

05 April 2019

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A group of 16 students (14 studying Earth and Environmental Science, and two vocation woodworking students) and two teachers took a bus tour through the forests of Northern NSW as part of their Renewable Resource Case Study field trip. This was the first time the school has used forests and timber as a context for learning in their senior Earth and Environmental Science classrooms but due to the overwhelming success of the day, it now won't be the last.

The aim of the field trip was for students to develop a case study of a sustainable renewable resource, including the management, reasons why it is sustainable, and the future use of the resource. Teacher feedback from the field trip reported that "the students gained a greater and much deeper understanding and appreciation of the role timber has in the future in terms of its sustainability. In addition, having the hands on experience will be of a great benefit if they are asked a question on the case study in their HSC exams. A few students expressed interest in going on to complete further studies in forestry which was very pleasing."

The itinerary for the day was planned in collaboration with ForestLearning and Hurford Plantations.  The group was also accompanied for the full day by Dr Graeme Palmer, Deputy Director Forest Research Centre with the Southern Cross University, Lismore who was able to further explain and expand on the science behind, and career pathways in, forestry. 

A day exploring the full renewable cycle - Forest to Mill

Students and teachers were first taken to a Hurford Forest eucalypt plantation to learn about the process of planting, growing and 30 year management of eucalypt forests for wood production. A forester from Hurford Forests and Dr Graeme Palmer, Southern Cross University were both on hand to describe and conduct hands on activities with students in the forest including tree height measurements, soil science activities and outline the carbon cycle and carbon sequestration of trees in their wood that make them a great tool in combatting climate change. Students were then taken to the Hurford Hardwood green mill where the harvested trees are taken to be processed into rough sawn boards.  Following the kiln drying process, the students followed the journey of the boards that are sent to Hurford Hardwood dry mill where the boards are planed and moulded into the beautiful flooring products we see in shops and within our houses and schools.

School feedback from the tour

Feedback from the tour was overwhelmingly positive from the teachers and students who attended.  Xaviers teacher who attended reported that "Students found the trip to be very valuable to their learning and gained a thorough understanding of the life cycle of timber as a resource. The week later they went on the trip to Sydney and came back with photos of buildings they saw made from timber and were saying how great it was because it is a sustainable resource and beautiful to see in a city where everything is concrete."

As for the teachers, they reported "I thought the day was fantastic. To be able to see the flow on process from the plantation (including the two areas that had been thinned) to the wet and then dry mill (where we saw the timber hardwood flooring) was an amazing experience. Andrew Hurford, his staff and the staff from SCU offered an invaluable experience with a phenomenal amount of knowledge that the students will remember for many years."

Further feedback and appreciation from the school included:

"I just wanted to say thank you so much for the Hurford excursion.  The kids had a fantastic time and so did I. The students loved seeing the plantation and the mill it was absolutely amazing for them to get out of the classroom and experience the tree farm!

I would definitely love to continue running this trip in the future - next time we might look at an overnight option with a visit to the university (that offers forestry as a course) on the way home.

It was so interesting and Andrew (Hurford) was fantastic. It has helped so much putting our (renewable resource) case study together for the course so thank you again. I really look forward to doing it future years it was amazing."

Plan your own Renewable Resource Field Trip with ForestLearning!

For further information on how your school can conduct a field tour to explore the renewable forest and timber resource cycle near you, please contact ForestLearning at

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