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TAFE NSW graduate provides lifeline for endagered species

22 May 2024

TAFE NSW graduate provides lifeline for endagered species

22 May 2024


At a critical time for Australia’s threatened species, TAFE NSW is equipping students with the knowledge and skills required to contribute to a sustainable future.

Skilling future workers with specialist conservation skills comes at a time when over 550 native Australian animals have been found at risk of becoming extinct, according to World Wildlife Fund Australia. The 2019-2020 bushfires impacted nearly three billion animals, while the increasing impacts of climate change, invasive predators and habitat destruction are affecting our wildlife more than ever.

The TAFE NSW Diploma of Conservation and Ecosystem Management arms students with skills to help preserve the ecosystem by learning how to rehabilitate the natural environment.

This expertise gave TAFE NSW Trenayr graduate from 2023, Lola Topsom-Southwood, the confidence to start a conservation business aimed at saving endangered animal and plants species.

“The TAFE NSW course helped me fulfill a lifelong dream to work full-time in conservation,” she said. “I gained an array of skills to control pest species, understand ecological systems and identify native plants, pests and animals to protect and preserve natural habitats.”

Lola, 53, a former transport driver, who has previously volunteered for different environmental organisations, says the course allowed her to make a career pivot and follow her true passion.

“I’ve had a long-standing interest in ecology, biodiversity, and conservation. This qualification has allowed me to do a 360-career change, which is something I didn’t anticipate at my age,” she said.

“The course helped me establish a thriving conservation business. Current contracts range from a coastal emu protection program in the Clarence, to protecting plant and tree species, to managing large-scale weed control projects. I also subcontract to NSW National Parks.”

Lola recently purchased 78 acres of wetlands in the Northern Rivers to create a refuge for animal and plant wildlife. This May, the NSW Biodiversity and Conservation Trust deemed most of the wetlands protected in perpetuity.

“The majority of the land is protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, which means that all plant and animal species will be protected for generations to come,” Lola explains. “The course I competed at TAFE NSW has given me both the confidence and skills to manage and protect this large area of land. I’m extremely proud to make this contribution to conservation.”


Media contact: Karen Farrell, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,,  0425 275 611.