Ergon Energy – Wet Tropics EMPs

Biotropica Australia staff recently completed Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) for all Ergon Energy powerlines in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA).  This involved detailed ‘span by span’ surveys of over 200 kilometres of electricity lines in a diverse range of ecosystems, from the lowlands of Mission Beach to the top of the McDowell Range on the CREB Track north of Daintree.

Lines traversing the WTWHA are often in remote areas, where access is just as challenging as the area’s remarkable flora and fauna. Using Trimble GEO-XM’s™, coupled with custom designed software and ArcView, Biotropica Australia has produced detailed and accurate plans to assist Ergon Energy staff and contractors to protect and preserve World Heritage values to the greatest possible extent.  EMPs provide staff and contractors with plans that are easily interpreted in the field and include a locality-specific photographic library of rare and threatened plants, weeds, and low-growing species for retention.

During the course of our surveys, Biotropica Australia staff recorded 37 species of rare, vulnerable and endangered plants, and 54 species of weeds including numbers of Class 1 and Class 2 Declared plants.  Surveys also extended the known range of some plants. Biotropica Australia director Nigel Tucker described the project as ‘technically and physically challenging’, noting that without Biotropica Australia’s initial investment in GIS data structure design and custom software, maintaining data integrity and final product quality would have been much more difficult.