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Conserving Critical Environmental Flows – with Dr Ben Cook

Conserving Critical Environmental Flows Flow as the Dominant Influence on River Ecology Water flow has been described as the ‘master variable’ or ‘maestro variable that orchestrates pattern and process’ in stream and river ecology, as it has a dominant role in shaping and sustaining fundamental properties of riverine ecosystems [i].  The structure and complexity of physical habitat in streams (e.g. channel geometry, the arrangement of pool and riffle habitats, types and stability of substrate), water quality and energy sources are heavily shaped by water flow [i], [ii], [iii].  For example, flood flows help maintain channel geometry and groundwater inputs sustain base flows on watercourses during dry periods (Figure 1).  The distribution, abundance and diversity of aquatic biota is in turn strongly influenced by

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Mistake Mountain Crayfish (Euastacus jagara) and the endangered Fleay’s barred frog (Mixophyes fleayi)

frc environmental assisted in establishing a baseline for the critically endangered Mistake Mountain Crayfish (Euastacus jagara) and the endangered Fleay’s barred frog (Mixophyes fleayi). Under challenging conditions we used a combination of burrow counts, trapping and water quality measurements to gain a better understanding of the abundance and ecology of these rare crayfish. The survey is used to inform management of walking tracks in Main Range National Park and will ensure the habitat of these two species is not disturbed by

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Kirra Reef Biota Monitoring Program

frc environmental have a well established relationship with the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypass Program, having designed the Kirra Reef monitoring program in the mid 1990s.  The program has evolved over the years, with the current program using a combination of scientific divers and ROV.   Located just offshore of the surf zone, Kirra Reef poses challenges both for the plants and animals that live there, and the scientists that monitor the reef’s health: wave action results in a near constant ‘rain’ of fine sediment and storms can have catastrophic effects.  None-the-less, the reef is healthy, supporting a fascinating combination of tropical and temperate flora and

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Kirra Reef Biota Monitoring Program – We’re back!

Serving as yet another example that whilst others might be cheaper, frc environmental delivers what they promise, frc environmental is delighted to again be working with the Tweed River Sand Bypassing Project, monitoring the effects of the sand bypass on Kirra Reef. Originally designed by frc environmental’s Senior Principal ecologist Dr John Thorogood in the 1990’s, the monitoring program has evolved alongside our understanding of the impacts of sand bypassing.  Today, the sand bypass closely mimics the natural northerly migration of sand and operates alongside a healthy and vibrant reefal community. The monitoring program combines the latest in ROV technology, together with an experienced scientific dive team to deliver robust insights that support confident decision making. Watch this space for

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‘Suitably Qualified Persons’ – a perspective for freshwater ecological assessment and compliance auditing

Development approval conditions typically require some form of environmental assessment to demonstrate compliance (e.g. implementation of an environmental monitoring program). Some developments, especially those involving environmentally relevant activities (ERAs), also require compliance auditing. The State requires that a ‘suitably qualified person’ (SQP) does these assessments and audits. When is a ‘Suitably Qualified Person’ Required? In Queensland, the definition of a SQP is a person who has ‘professional qualifications, training, skills or experience relevant to the nominated subject matter and can give authoritative assessment, advice and analysis to performance relative to the subject matter using the relevant protocols, standards, methods or literature’. While the Flora Survey Guidelines for Protected Plants (pursuant to the Nature Conservation Act 1992) provides guidance for self-assessment,

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Acid Sulfate Soils – Nature’s Time-Bomb

Coastal development often throws up the term ‘acid sulfate soils’.  What are acid sulfate soils and why are they associated with environmental damage? Acid sulfate soils (ASS) are typically formed by bacteria interacting with vegetable matter and iron, as sea levels rose along the coast at the end of the last ice age.  In an undisturbed state below the water table, these soils are harmless (and known as potential acid sulfate soils or PASS).  However, when exposed to air, either by excavation or through lowering of the water table, acid sulfate soils release sulfuric acid. Rainfall following dry weather typically triggers the release of sulfuric acid, turning downstream waters acidic and releasing metals like iron and aluminium.  At sufficient concentration,

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