Outdoor Recreation & Ecotourism Development
This integrated ecotourism development and outdoor recreational facility is located in the Gold Coast Hinterland. The development incorporates extensive outdoor recreation activities in a high value ecological area. It includes strategically placed zip lines, Tibetan suspension bridges, mountain biking trails, a picnic area, a camping site, a walking trail and related infrastructure. The development requires several facilities and constructions such as a visitor complex, café area, toilet/shower facility and a bike service/ hire shop which are located in a previously cleared area, which has been significantly modified.
Envirosphere Consulting has been working with the proponent over several years on major facets of the development to establish a detailed understanding of the environmental values of the property. We have undertaken the necessary studies, assessments and planning to support the development application for the project.
Over this period, Envirosphere Consulting has completed:
- Detailed Terrestrial Ecological Assessment of the site;
- Guided our client through the Federal EPBC Referral process and produced a compressive Conservation Management Plan;
- Ecological Restoration Management Plan;
- Bushfire Clearing and Tree Removal Management Plan;
- Pest Animal Monitoring and Management Plan;
- Impact Management Plan for dealing with protected flora matters listed under state legislation;
- Envirosphere Consulting has also provided expert witness testimony in the Planning and Environment Court, in relation to the development and worked with the client to achieve the final approvals.
Tourist Cabin Accommodation
Our client was developing part of the property as an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast, with four tree house cabins located to capture views of the Gold Coast and enjoy bushland surrounds. Envirosphere Consulting was engaged to undertake an ecological assessment of the property which also included a protected flora survey. Desktop research indicated that Endangered, Vulnerable and Near Threatened (EVNT) flora and fauna were likely to be found on the site and one of our key objectives was to ensure that the location of the tree houses would not impact threatened plants.
Nature-based Recreation Events in Protected Areas
Our client hosts an endurance trail run in the Gold Coast Hinterland each year. The 50km event is organised and run by a business specialising in events held in outdoor natural environments. Envirosphere Consulting was engaged by the client to undertake an Impact Assessment, including pre-and post-event monitoring.
Eight (8) pre-determined sites required monitoring, along with an additional trail survey along one of the circuit’s that was approximately 4.9 km in length. The sites as identified by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) were outlined in the Environmental Impact Assessment Design Brief for the event.
Site selection was based on potential for impacts to vegetation and fauna habitat, potential for erosion, human impact on trails and water quality monitoring. Site selection also depended to some degree on the nature of the event and areas of likely or known impact e.g. competitors traversing muddy surfaces and creek crossings. Envirosphere Consulting’s monitoring satisfied the approval conditions for the event, and the subsequent report highlighted findings and opportunities for improvements to be made to future events.
Intensive Agri-business Integrated Development
We were engaged by a client that was in the process of moving from a traditional agricultural model to a more intensive mixed-use enterprise, to undertake an assessment of the water quality entering and leaving the project area. A number of rural production enterprises are located in the area upstream from the site including beef and poultry production properties, cropping, a small vineyard and an abattoir. The baseline water quality assessment was initiated to obtain pre-development water quality data that are specifically related to parameters associated with agricultural rural production and which would likely be of interest to various state government regulators. The recorded data can be used for future comparisons after rehabilitation works have been undertaken on the project site.
Thirteen (13) physio-chemical and biological parameters were tested to provide an indication of general waterway health. The parameters included those significant for detecting rural production impacts, namely, agricultural runoff, soil erosion and sedimentation.
Envirosphere brought value to our client’s operations through our environmental management expertise, identifying poor water quality and other impacts associated with the catchment. Prior to our assessment work and the final report, there was no baseline information available and no real understanding of the quality of water on the property.
With a better understanding of the water quality of the site, our client is making changes to management strategies including creating a stock free environmental restoration zone of 100m on either bank of the creek (to be fully revegetated) for the full length of the creek from the western to the eastern boundary. This significant action is expected to dramatically improve water quality in this localised catchment. Other projects undertaken for this client included the following: Ecological Assessment and Report, Soils Survey and Report, Ecological restoration advice and consultation with SEQwater about the expansion of the Intensive Agricultural Enterprise.
Currumbin Valley Rural Development
Ecological Planning, Design and Project Management
This development site is situated in the middle of the Currumbin Valley and encompasses approximately 85 hectares of proposed environmental reserves. Envirosphere Consulting continues to represent our client with ecological restoration guidance, environmental consulting and compliance aspects of the project, in conjunction with RPS (Gold Coast).
Prior to starting Envirosphere Consulting, Steve was the lead consultant for the restoration design of the project and carried out extensive assessments, developed strategies and compiled three environmental and ecological restoration reports for the site. Envirosphere Consulting is currently contracted as an independent natural areas project manager to oversee the implementation of restoration works and parks infrastructure throughout the site.
Industrial Processor Sustainability Planning
Our client operates an industrial processing facility and undertakes a range of activities to reclaim valuable animal products from abattoir waste. The company also reuses high nutrient waste water (produced as a result of their operations) on the property to grow lush pasture, which is grazed by a resident herd of beef cattle. The Company sees itself as providing an important recycling function for what might otherwise be a waste product and is focused on continually improving the environmental outcomes from its activities.
Envirosphere is working closely with the Management Team to develop its understanding of the nutrient processing capabilities of the property’s pasture areas and the characteristics of its soils, with a view to further improve irrigation practices and ensure there are no off-site impacts.
Our team analysed records of previous environmental monitoring, soil analyses and reports provided by the client and found clear gaps in knowledge regarding a full understanding of the soils within the irrigation area. By identifying these gaps, we were able to target our assessments and undertake further analysis that provided a better understanding of the site constraints. Through our understanding of the client’s needs and a thorough understanding of the site constraints, we were able to provide clear recommendations for the long-term viability of this operation.
Envirosphere Consulting has also set up and facilitates a monthly Environmental Sustainability Panel in conjunction with our client, to identify other opportunities to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the organisation’s operations.
Kudzu Management Action Plan & Monitoring Program
Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an aggressive exotic vine which is a declared Class 2 Weed under the QLD Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management Act, 2002). During 2011 an infestation was discovered in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and a treatment review and monitoring program was set up in conjunction with Bushcare Services.
The ecological restoration site was divided into three trial plots, each with its own specific herbicide treatment. Monitoring measures including percentage of cover and stem counts were deemed to be unsuitable due to the relatively sparse nature of a large part of the infestation and the fact that the vine almost completely dies off during the cooler months and is difficult to locate. Therefore, a monitoring approach based on excavating and assessing the health of the treated tubers was selected.
The trialling of different treatments and the subsequent monitoring of results over several years identified the most appropriate, cost effective and reliable treatment for the control of this aggressive invasive plant.
Local Government Natural Areas Management
Envirosphere was engaged by a City Council to prepare two map-based ecological restoration plans for two Council Conservation Areas. A detailed project understanding was achieved through an initial inception meeting with the client, where site specific information was exchanged, questions were asked, and expectations were firmly clarified.
An important element of this project was the review of available published literature focusing on strategies, methodologies and case studies for approaches to restoring and rehabilitating degraded land and site-specific data and reports such as Regional Ecosystem Mapping, the current site plan, weed lists, revegetation lists, etc. Site assessments were undertaken at each park to assess the health of the vegetation including; condition, structure, resilience, level of weed infestation, native recruitment, etc. Important features were captured with a GPS and boundaries were defined to allow the site to be divided into management zones. Additional native plant species that had not previously been identified onsite were added to a confirmed species list. All other potential management issues were also noted.
An initial field survey map was created for each of the two parks to use during the site assessment. It was based on Council’s existing restoration zone mapping for both Parks. This map was then marked up accordingly (in the field), to assist with the design of the new map. Field data, GPS points and newly designed polygons (as marked up on the field map) were integrated with existing Council GIS data to create the draft map, which divided the area into new management zones. This was undertaken to prioritise treatment areas from high priority areas to lower priority areas; or to divide the site into manageable zones that required different treatments such as revegetation versus assisted regeneration or natural regeneration. The draft maps were presented to Council for review and feedback and suggested changes were incorporated to complete the final maps.
Yarrabilba Natural Environment
Site Strategy & Report
These two strategic planning projects undertaken in conjunction with Natura Pacific set the framework for current and future vegetation, fauna corridor and habitat protection as well as the management, clearing and use of areas set aside for future development.
The Natural Environment Site Strategy assessed and grouped areas of vegetation into categories based on vegetation types and densities, proposed uses and time frames until development. This allowed specific management treatments to be developed and applied. Risks, constraints and liabilities were analysed and areas were identified and mapped to help build an accurate picture of the landscape, determine appropriate land management actions and assign a level of management priority.
This unique strategy is being used to guide vegetation management onsite now and for the next 30 years to:
- Reduce fuels and the risk of wildfire;
- Reduce future vegetation clearing costs for proposed development areas;
- Prepare areas for interim uses such as grazing, nursery activities, effluent disposal, etc;
- Reduce densities of weeds across the site and thereby protect the natural environment and reduce future weed control costs
- Set aside, protect and enhance natural areas, wetlands, vegetation buffers and fauna corridors and;
- Retain and manage suitable areas of Pine as a potential future timber resource