Ravensworth State Forest, located between Singleton and Muswellbrook, is one of the largest areas of remnant woodland on the central Hunter Valley floor and is where Glencore Xstrata has its Mt Owen Mine site. But the Forest is also home to a number of threatened species like the Green and Golden Bell Frog, Squirrel Glider, Spotted Tailed Quoll, and several bat and woodland bird species.
Mt Owen Mine is rehabilitating part of the Forest disturbed by mining. But their efforts don’t stop at restoring the area to its pre-mining condition: Mt Owen Mine is also improving land around the mine site.
In fact, once the mine is closed, there will be an area of native woodland about five times larger than what existed before mining.
Taking measurements of mature tree rehabilitation at Ravensworth State Forest.
Covering 1774 hectares, the new forest reserve will be comparable to the largest existing areas of remnant vegetation on the Hunter Valley floor, and will establish a core area that can be connected by corridors to other remnant woodlands on the Valley floor and ridges.
The company is also working with government bodies and experts from the University of Newcastle to enhance native flora and fauna in the area in a conservation program that includes both rehabilitation and biodiversity offsets.
The Biodiversity Offset Strategy involves taking areas next to the mine site, mainly pastures and isolated sections of woodland, and both conserving existing plant and animal life as well as creating new self-sustaining conservation areas.
The regeneration program includes the use of forest topsoil on mine rehabilitation areas to re-establish a similar range and mix of species to the original vegetation.
Biodiversity offsets associated with Mt Owen Mine cover 415 hectares – that’s on top of over 400 hectares of land the mine has already restored and transferred to the government for incorporation into the forest reserve system. These offset areas around the mine will increase the overall area covered with vegetation, supporting efforts to restore native vegetation and wildlife corridors to the Hunter Valley.
Plant and animal monitoring has shown good species diversity and abundance, and the woodland area is regenerating itself. Much of this work has been recognised internationally – in fact, Mt Owen Mine’s work was recently highly commended by the Global Restoration Network of the Society of Ecosystem Restoration, International.