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Response to Submissions

Shenhua Watermark RTS

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Q. Are there Koalas on the Shenhua Watermark site ?
A. Koalas have been consistently detected across the Project Boundary and Breeza State Forest in all
eucalypt dominated woodland. An analysis of sightings and scat data via SAT surveys were
adopted to understand Koala activity. Approximately half of the SAT plots (48%) yielded low
activity levels, however, the remaining plots yielded medium (11%) and high (41%) activity,
indicating core Koala habitat. From the results of the surveys between 2010 and 2012, it is evident
that Koalas are utilising the majority of wooded habitats within the Project Boundary.

Q. Have any Koala experts been involved in the Watermark Project ?
A. A number of leading Koala specialists were consulted during assessment and preparation of the
Koala Plan of Management. Dr Stephen Phillips was consulted regarding the development of a
suitable methodology for determining Koala activity levels and population density estimates
within the Project Boundary and surrounding lands. A peer review of the Koala Plan of
Management was conducted by Dr Katherine Handasyde from Melbourne University and
Dr Mathew Crowther from the University of Sydney and their comments and recommendations
were incorporated into the Koala Plan of Management for the Project

Q. What management measures will Shenhua implement to ensure the Koalas are protected ?
A. A range of mitigation and management measures are proposed to manage impacts on the Koala
including (in the Koala Plan of management):

o Habitat protection;

o Habitat revegetation and enhancement;

o Mine Site rehabilitation; and

o Annual population monitoring and reporting.

o Monitoring of health;

o Staged movement of Koalas;

o Staged translocation of Koalas;

o Public education;

o Fire management;

o Drought protection;

o Vertebrate pest management.

Q. What are the potential impacts of the Project on the Koala?
A. The Project will result in the removal of 847 ha of secondary browse feed trees for the Koala over the 30 years life of the Project. Such trees will be replanted or encouraged to regenerate within the onsite areas and biodiversity offset areas, as required.

The removal of this habitat will result in approximately 262 Koalas to be translocated over the life of the Project, which equates to 0.07% of the total Gunnedah population per year or 2.1% of the total Gunnedah population over the 30 year period. This is not expected to have a significant impact on the regional population as a whole as the Gunnedah population is considered to be robust and widely distributed.
 
Q. How will the vegetation clearance be staged over the life of the Project and what are the mitigation and compensation measures planned for Koalas?
A. The Project will result in the translocation of approximately 262 Koalas over a 30 year period and 89 animals within the first 10 years.

Shenhua Watermark has implemented a number of avoidance measures, which is reflected in the mine plan design in order to minimise impacts on preferred Koala habitat. To compensate for unavoidable impacts, a total of 4,626 ha of preferred Koala habitat will be provided through retention, revegetation and rehabilitation within the Onsite Biodiversity Offset Areas. Security of the additional biodiversity offset area will also conserve 2,649 ha of existing preferred Koala habitat and revegetate a further 884 ha. The proposed avoidance, mitigation and compensation measures are considered to sufficiently provide for the ongoing wellbeing of the Koala population.
 
Q. What is the translocation plan for Koalas within the Disturbance Area?
A. Given the nature and operations of the Project, the Koalas occurring within the Disturbance Area will be at risk and as such require translocation.

A Koala Translocation Management Plan will be prepared in consideration of available literature and trials and in consultation with appropriate specialists. The plan will outline the selection of release sites and detailed methods for the capture, translocation and monitoring of animals. Such efforts will be supplemented with post translocation surveys to be carried out on subsets of translocated animals for the 30 year life of the Project. Furthermore, Shenhua Watermark has committed to funding research into regional population studies.


The proposed translocation, monitoring, research initiatives are considered to sufficiently provide for the ongoing wellbeing of the Koala population.

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