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DESIGNING FOR SUCCESS: APPLYING ECOLOGICAL CRITERIA TO RESTORATION AT BHP BEENUP, AUSTRALIA
Meney, K. and L. Pantelic. | Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure Volume 1:185-198(2019)

Operations at the former BHP Beenup titanium minerals operation significantly modified the landscape. This, combined with limited knowledge of the recruitment biology of many of the plant species, created uncertainty about the feasibility of restoring the site to near-natural communities. The closure process consisted of a novel planning approach using a designed-based philosophy informed by risk assessment and assessment of restoration success using ecological completion criteria. Regional ecosystems were surveyed in detail to characterize the soils, hydrology, and vegetation of each major feature. Deep pools created by dredging were modified into lakes via void infilling, and extensive shallow shorelines were created to generate a more naturalistic final shape. The focus on ecosystem design enabled revegetation to be tailored to the specific vegetation communities that best matched the reconstructed landforms to reduce seed wastage and increase the probability of success. A detailed and prescriptive set of restoration and completion criteria were developed to enable a greater certainty of outcomes and enabled quantitative measurements of restoration success. The incorporation of sustainability and resilience were applied to guide both the approach to restoration and to the measurement of success. Fifteen years after restoration, 15 ecological communities and more than 251 plant species have been successfully restored, including many conservation-listed species. The project achieved regulatory sign-off against rehabilitation completion criteria in 2018 and is one of the few ecologically designed post-mining landscapes globally. This article is Open Access athttps://papers.acg.uwa.edu.au/p/1915_16_Meney/



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