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Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre

Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre

Leading environmental education to empower learners for a sustainable future.

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S6 - Ecosystems at Risk

Ecosystems at Risk’ is a S6 Geography fieldwork program that focuses on a case study of an Ecosystem at Risk, biophysical interactions, human impacts and its management and protection. The Ecosystem at Risk is the Kelp Forest at Chowder Bay, NSW which is a part of the greater Kelp Forests of South Eastern Australia. Kelp forests harbor a greater variety and higher diversity of plants and animals than almost any other ocean community. 

Students will participate in a series of hands on fieldwork activities at Clifton Gardens Reserve on Chowder Bay, Sydney Harbour. These activities will enhance geographical inquiry in this topic.

Program location

Clifton Gardens Reserve, Chowder Bay Mosman

View the Google Fieldwork Map with approximate walking route, meeting location and pick up location. 

Key inquiry question

How do biophysical interactions play a role in the functioning of a resilient ecosystem? How do humans impact the ecosystem (both positive and negative)?

Key syllabus outcomes

  • H2 explains the factors which place ecosystems at risk and the reasons for their protection
  • H5 evaluates environmental management strategies in terms of ecological sustainability
  • H6 evaluates the impacts of, and responses of people to, environmental change
  • H8 plans geographical inquiries to analyse and synthesise information from a variety of sources

Skills outcomes

Learning activities include:

  • H10 applies maps, graphs and statistics, photographs and fieldwork to analyse and integrate data in geographical contexts
  • H12 explains geographical patterns, processes and future trends through appropriate case studies and illustrative examples

Student previsit and follow up activities

Successful fieldwork visits have direct links to current classroom learning. Pre-visit activities carried out prior to the excursion will help students better understand their excursion content and provide connectedness and relevance to classroom learning.

Students should view the Pre-visit website to familiarise themselves with the fieldwork concepts and location. This website contains tasks, which together with the fieldwork, will help students answer the fieldwork inquiry question.


On the day activities

During the full day fieldwork excursion, students will complete the following activities:

  • Snorkelling in Chowder Bay reserve to observe kelp first hand. 
  • Map Annotation and Precis Map construction
  • Stimulus resource investigation of Spatial Patterns and Dimensions
  • Observation and recording of the unique features of Kelp including what does Kelp need to grow? (Biophysical Interactions)
  • Food web construction
  • data collection of Biotic and Abiotic features
  • Observations and assessment of human impacts and management Strategies

Please note; activities may vary depending on number of classes attending.


  • Please ring the centre for cost options.