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Advice on Bioregional Assessments

The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (the IESC) is providing advice on the scope and method of the Australian Government's bioregional assessments, which are being undertaken in selected areas.

Bioregional Assessments Methodology

The IESC was involved in the development of the scientific framework which provides guidance on how bioregional assessments should be undertaken.

The Methodology for bioregional assessments of the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining development on water resources (the methodology) is a technical document written primarily for scientific researchers undertaking bioregional assessments. It outlines the scientific approach to this work with the aim of assisting the IESC to provide advice on future coal seam gas and large coal mining projects.

From a scientific perspective, the methodology documents the process by which bioregional information is collected and presented and how the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts and risks to water-dependent assets arising from mining and coal seam gas extraction can be determined.

Australian Government's Bioregional Assessment Programme

Bioregional assessments are being undertaken to strengthen the science underpinning future decisions about coal seam gas and coal mining activities and their impacts on water-dependent assets. Importantly they will provide an objective basis for scientists, and non-scientists alike, to consider when debating potential coal seam gas and coal mining developments and adaptive management strategies.

Australia is the first country in the world to gather and consolidate such a wide range of detailed information on a whole-of-region scale.

More information is available on the Bioregional Assessments website.

The bioregional assessments include five components of work.

  1. Contextual information: a detailed description of the region’s ecology, hydrology, hydrogeology and geology that increases understanding of the regional context of water resources, within which coal seam gas and large coal mining development might occur.
  2. Model-data analysis: conceptual, numerical and/or analytical modelling to estimate changes to hydrology and ecology that could result from developments.
  3. Impact analysis: identification of the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources.
  4. Risk analysis: a scientific consideration of possible risks, their likelihood and consequences.
  5. Outcome synthesis: a summary of components one to four, as well as identification of information gaps and recommendations for future monitoring.

The Bioregional Assessment Programme is focusing on regions with significant coal deposits, particularly on those regions with existing or anticipated mining developments. Assessments are being undertaken in the following areas:

  • the Galilee, Cooper, Pedirka and Arckaringa subregions, within the Lake Eyre Basin bioregion
  • the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine, Gwydir, Namoi and Central West subregions within the Northern Inland Catchments bioregion
  • the Clarence-Moreton bioregion
  • the Hunter and Gloucester subregions within the Northern Sydney Basin bioregion
  • the Sydney Basin bioregion
  • the Gippsland Basin bioregion.

Bioregional Assessment Areas

Map of Eastern Australia showing the locations of the six bioregions

Source: Bioregional Assessment Programme, Commonwealth of Australia (2014)