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Determination of Criteria for Mining Lease Relinquishment within Central Queensland, Using Terrestrial Vertebrate Fauna as Indicators of Rehabilitation Success

Open Cut » Environment

Published: June 03Project Number: C10033

Get ReportAuthor: Lindsay Agnew, Darren Richardson, Andrew Veary | WBM

Where once a primary objective of the mine rehabilitation had been to return the land to grazing, with success measured in terms of projected foliage cover of grasses, more complex and demanding outcomes are now sought. Increasingly, approaches to rehabilitation include, or in many cases, primarily focus on, development of wildlife habitat values. Environmental strategies regularly demand that the disturbed land is returned to a self sustaining ecosystem.

Determination of rehabilitation success criteria, which ultimately enables mining lease relinquishment, continues to be a major research focus for open cut coal mines. To date, biotic criteria to measure progression towards sustainable rehabilitation has largely focused on the successional, structural and floristic characteristics of vegetation cover. Increasingly, interest and research now extends to the assessment of both invertebrate and vertebrate fauna species and assemblages as potential surrogate measures to identify rehabilitation success.

Currently, there is no single source of information available to central Queensland mine operators that integrates the data from a range of sites to provide a regional perspective on the suitability of using terrestrial vertebrate fauna species as indicators of rehabilitation success.

The primary objective of this study was to contribute to the process of determining criteria for mining lease relinquishment within the Bowen Basin, using terrestrial vertebrate fauna as indicators that will form a component of mine rehabilitation success criteria.

The primary aims to support the study objectives were as follows:

  • Collation and review of the existing literature resources; and
  • Analysis of data derived from field studies undertaken within the Bowen Basin to provide an assessment and identification of:
    • rehabilitation approaches and specific site treatments that were associated with comparatively rich fauna assemblages;
    • potential linkages between rehabilitation characteristics and the extent of fauna colonisation; and
    • elements of fauna assemblages, that is species and/or groups, which have potential value as an index of vertebrate species richness and indices of rehabilitation development and health.

This report provides both a collation and review of existing literature resources and an analysis of field data collected within the Bowen Basin.

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