Andrew makes career change to focus on conservation

Apr 30, 2024

Andrew Blanc receives a Playford Trust award

Motivated by wanting to “give back to the environment” TAFE SA student Andrew Blanc is gaining skills in conservation and land management to help achieve his vision of re-greening the state.

“My hope is to revegetate as much of South Australia as possible, increasing the green canopies, aiding in cooling and wilding of the city and giving the beautiful native fauna and flora a chance to bounce back so that the ecosystem can flourish,” he says.

While he admits he has “big aspirations”, he has already been involved in creating South Australia’s first Miyawaki pocket forest in the city parklands, and is a volunteer with Taperoo Dunes, a group working to establish native vegetation in the sand dunes.

Andrew, who is studying a Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management at TAFE SA, is the recipient of a prestigious Playford Trust Award, presented in partnership with Open Gardens South Australia, which recognises and encourages students to further their interest in the environment, conservation and horticulture.

“The Playford Trust/Open Gardens SA award was a huge help in allowing me to continue my important studies while also allowing me the time to work with some amazing volunteer groups to get more hands-on experience,” he says.

Andrew’s involvement in the South East City Residents Association is providing valuable experience with the group working closely with the City of Adelaide to revegetate parts of Victoria Park and, he says, helping to establish the Miyawaki pocket forest has been a “heartening project”.

“I absolutely loved being part of the first Miyawaki pocket forest planting in Victoria Park from co-designing the layout - using skills I learnt at TAFE SA - and native plant selection to coordinating the plantings and debriefs with the volunteers,” he says.

The Japanese Miyawaki method creates a dense mini forest which is fast growing and ideal for urban areas and Andrew says Adelaide’s pilot pocket forest is already showing significantly more growth than a control area planted in a conventional horticultural method.

“This work is really what I’d love to be doing on a much larger scale as I can see the incredible value that this would offer in revegetating areas of South Australia quickly,” he says.

Previously working in an office-based management role, Andrew decided on a career change that would enable him to reconnect with nature, make a positive difference for the environment and further support his interest in animal welfare.

He completed a Certificate III in Horticulture at TAFE SA’s Urrbrae Campus before enrolling in Conservation and Ecosystem Management which he is “absolutely loving”.

“At TAFE SA you get the theory in a classroom environment and then you get to go outside and get hands on putting the theory into practice which, for me, makes the learning fun and helps me retain the information,” he says.

Andrew says his fitness and wellbeing have also benefitted from spending more time outdoors.

“The connection with nature, fresh air, vitamin D and knowing that what you are doing is helping the animals regain some of what they have lost just rewards the mind, body and soul,” he says.

Pictured above: Andrew receives his award from the co-chair of Open Gardens South Australia, Victoria Winnall.