Terrestrial vertebrate fauna surveys for the preparation of environmental impact assessments; how can we do it better? A Western Australian example
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The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in 2002 released Position Statement, No. 3, Terrestrial Biological Surveys as an Element of Biodiversity Protection outlining how terrestrial fauna survey data are to be used and interpreted in the preparation of environmental impact assessments (EIA). In 2004, the EPA released its Guidance for the Assessment of Environmental Factors, Terrestrial Fauna Surveys for Environmental Impact Assessment in Western Australia, No. 56. This paper briefly assesses the adequacy of recent terrestrial fauna surveys undertaken to support publicly released EIAs and indicates that the EPA is not always adhering to its own position and guidance statements. This paper argues that the current fauna survey guidelines are in need of improvement. The approach and requirements of some other Australian states are briefly assessed to identify similarities and where improvements can be made to the Western Australian (WA) guidelines. This paper concludes with suggestions on how the process and the guidelines in WA can be revised to more adequately assess the impact of developments on terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity and ecosystem function. These suggestions may have relevance for other areas where fauna surveys are undertaken to support EIAs.