While we all hope the proposed coal seam gas pipeline will never happen in the Scenic Rim region local ecologist Dr Ronda Green believes it is vital we begin to survey, document and monitor the wildlife in the proposed pipeline pathway.
She believes that even if the pipeline doesn't proceed, the information gathered through wildlife surveys now will still be of great use for other conservation management purposes such as deciding where habitat restoration or wildlife corridors are needed or planning for new roads.Ronda said, “the aim of a wildlife survey in the region is NOT to go out and collect lots of information on endangered species to stop the pipeline. If this happens, great, but it is probably beyond our capacity to do this in the short time available (the really critically-endangered species are amongst the hardest to find), and just seeing a rare species in the vicinity won't have an immediate impact on decision-makers.
“To be taken seriously, this survey needs to be conducted in a scientifically valid way, not as a quick-fix political activity that will likely be ignored by decision makers and mis-used by commercial developers and corporations.
“The whole complex of fauna and flora in any local ecosystem is of importance and there are many chains of dependency between species (and some two-way mutualisms). If we fragment habitats, cut off corridors from non-flying or weakly-flying animals, dig deep pits that ground-dwellers fall into, and risk taking away supplies of uncontaminated water, some of those native species which are not currently threatened may become so, at least locally. And if the pipeline does go ahead, close monitoring and mitigating actions will be essential over the next few years.
“These wildlife surveys will be designed as the start of standardised observations at a number of points (most of which are yet to be selected) along or close to the pipeline route, such that further surveys will provide a real opportunity to notice any changes. We are not objective in our desires - we hope the pipeline doesn't cut through this area! - but we MUST be objective and accurate in the way we collect the information if it is to mean anything and be taken seriously,” Ronda said.
Incidentally, the first evening survey on Lions Road included a greater glider, and the first morning survey included a pair of glossy black cockatoos flying right over the pipeline route just north of the border.