Adequacy of rehabilitation monitoring practices in the Western Australian mining industry

Authors

  • Scott A. Thompson,

  • Graham G. Thompson


  • Scott Thompson is a PhD student and Graham Thompson a senior lecturer in the Centre for Ecosystem Management, Edith Cowan University (Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia. Email: ecosystems@iinet.net.au; g.thompson@ecu.edu.au. Tel: (+61) 407 385239). This project is part of PhD research that has developed a rehabilitation index and monitoring protocol to assess the success of developing ecosystems in disturbed lands and mine sites.

Abstract

Summary  Currently in Western Australia (WA) there are no mandated standards for assessing rehabilitation success for the mining industry. We argue a case for focusing on the creation of near-natural, self-sustaining, functional ecosystems as the primary objective for rehabilitation programs and where this is not achievable, mines should plan to be ‘environmentally neutral’ by undertaking some improvements to degraded landscapes. We suggest that flora and fauna monitoring are appropriate tools for managers and regulators to obtain information on the extent to which a rehabilitated area has achieved a near natural, self-sustaining, functional ecosystem similar to that in the adjacent undisturbed area. This monitoring can also be used for completion criteria and closure plans. We report results from a short questionnaire sent to mine site environmental managers to assess the extent of flora and fauna monitoring in rehabilitation areas. Survey results highlighted the need for a more systematic and consistent approach to the monitoring of flora and fauna in rehabilitated mining areas in WA. Of 36 respondents, 23 mines monitored flora, three monitored fauna and two monitored both.

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