Coal miner establishes state’s largest biobanking site in Gunnedah
September 22, 2012

By restricting use of the land and actively managing it to improve biodiversity, Whitehaven Coal has committed to the long term improvement and conservation of the biodiversity offset site.

 

A region’s biodiversity – the variety of plants and animals in a particular area – can be disrupted when the land is developed. While NSW Miners aim to minimise mining’s impact on the land, mining does affect the environment. That’s why we don’t just regenerate the land that we mine. We also take care to improve the mix of flora and fauna in areas not directly affected by mining to offset those impacts while mining is underway.

As part of the effort to offset impacts on biodiversity at mine sites, a NSW Miner is taking part in the NSW Government’s BioBanking Scheme. The program provides a scientific methodology for measuring biodiversity and creates a market for biodiversity offset credits. Landowners who commit to secure and improve biodiversity on their land can create ‘biodiversity credits’ which can then be sold to developers, including mining companies, who are unable to avoid disrupting an area’s biodiversity.  

Funds for the future management of these “biobanked” offset sites are held in trust and paid to landholders annually. This system means that there will always be funding available to care for the land, regardless of any changes in ownership.

Whitehaven biobankingWhitehaven biobanking grey crowned babbler

A white crowned babbler at Whitehaven's BioBanking site.

In the biggest project of its type in the State, Whitehaven Coal is leading the way by securing and managing biodiversity at two local properties. Whitehaven’s 1,400 hectare biodiversity offset site borders the Kelvin Aboriginal Area about 20 kilometers from Gunnedah and is the eleventh biobank site in NSW.

NSW Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker has lauded Whitehaven’s efforts. 

“Around $1.8 million will be set aside to improve and conserve the habitat values of the site into the future,” she said, commenting on the payment by Whitehaven to the BioBanking Trust to ensure that the cost of managing of the land is secured in perpetuity. 
 
Despite being used for grazing in the past, four different types of native vegetation are prevalent on the properties, including two endangered ecological communities. It’s estimated that the site is home to over 30 threatened flora and fauna species, including the Koala and Grey-crowned Babbler. 

Whitehaven plans to actively improve the site by re-planting native vegetation, controlling feral populations, reinstating natural water flows and controlling weeds. 

 

State MP for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said Whitehaven’s involvement in the bio banking scheme would be a “boost” for the local environment.  

“Not only is local vegetation being conserved and managed but the site will provide habitat for animals and birds. Biobanking helps address the loss of biodiversity, including threatened animal species and environmental degradation of native vegetation,” he said. 

By conserving and improving the biodiversity values of the offset site, Whitehaven will not only compensate for some of the impacts of mining, but is also making a lasting contribution to the State’s environment.

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