Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam gas and Coal Mining

Advice on Bioregional Assessments

The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (the Committee) provides advice on the scope and method of the Australian Government's bioregional assessments to be undertaken in key areas.

Bioregional Assessments Methodology

The Committee has been involved in the development of the scientific framework which will provide guidance on how bioregional assessments should be undertaken.

The bioregional assessments 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 Committee 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 will be collected and presented and how the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts and risks to the environment arising from mining and coal seam gas extraction can be determined.

Australian Government's Bioregional Assessment Programme

Bioregional assessments will strengthen the science underpinning future decisions about coal seam gas and coal mining activities and their impacts on groundwater quality, surface water resources and ecosystems. 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 at the Bioregional Assessments website.

Bioregional assessments are expected to produce science-based products, which can potentially include:

  • Water assets information and coal resource profiles - an overview of each region and sub region including web access to data and reference material that will enable the community, industry and regulators to better understand the context in which a development is proposed.
  • Surface and groundwater models - three dimensional conceptual and integrated models that provide a better scientific understanding of a particular bioregion including how all water related attributes interact.
  • Impact and risk analysis - the likely impacts of mine development on community and environmental values and may describe the direct and indirect impacts of a particular mining activity or mining activities on water related assets.

The bioregional assessment programme will target regions with significant coal deposits and initially focus on those regions subject to significant existing or anticipated mining pressure. Assessments are currently planned in up to 15 subregions within six bioregions:

  1. the Galilee, Cooper, Pedirka and Arckaringa subregions, within the Lake Eyre Basin bioregion
  2. the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine, Gwydir, Namoi and Central West subregions within the Northern Inland Catchments bioregion
  3. the Clarence-Moreton subregion within the Clarence-Moreton bioregion
  4. the Hunter and Gloucester subregions within the Northern Sydney Basin bioregion
  5. the Hawkesbury-Nepean, Georges River and Wollongong Coast subregions within the Southern Sydney Basin bioregion
  6. the Gippsland Basin subregion within the Gippsland Basin bioregion.
Map of Eastern Australia showing the locations of the six bioregional assessments

The Australian Government's bioregional assessment programme is closely related to the research program. For more information about the Committee's advice on the Australian Government's research program see: Advice on research priorities and projects.

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