Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Graham Thompson

Second Advisor

Dr Dorian Moro

Abstract

The Environmental protection Authority has indicated that terrestrial fauna surveys as undertaken for the purpose of preparing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are not providing adequate information to enable decision-makers to assess development impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems. In the absence of a protocol to assess current standards of terrestrial fauna surveys, 'best practice' was defined through discussions held with an 'expert panel', and quantified through a questionnaire. This study examined current standards of terrestrial vertebrate fauna surveys, prepared for the purpose of EIA, with 'best practice' as defined by relevant expert opinion. Strengths and weaknesses of terrestrial fauna surveys were examined in consultant reports. The level to which individual reports addressed the respective components of the evaluation varied although the majority of reports preformed poorly against the established criteria. Although some reports addressed many of the issues comprehensively, most failed to mention or adequately address a large proportion of criteria considered essential. All consultant reports failed to employ sufficient trap effort to adequately sample fauna at both the biotope and landscape scales. In addition, few consultants undertook appropriate seasonal trapping. If fauna surveys undertaken for EIA are to enable decision-makers to adequately assess the impacts of development on biodiversity and particular ecosystems, then they must provide appropriate information. This research has identified deficiencies within current standards that need to be addressed if appropriate information is to be collected within the EIA process. If adequate data collection and relevant ecological information are collected as part of the fauna survey process, not only can ETA processes become more proficient, but knowledge of the States biodiversity can be enhanced. Conclusions and recommendations are made with a view to improving the quality and usefulness of data collected.

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