Working in partnership with QUT, Wanless has welcomed three teams to conduct research projects at its Ebenezer site. The collaboration with QUT follows the company’s interest in QUT’s Centre for a Waste-Free World, which develops and implements new waste technologies and processes.
Wanless is committed to working with the Waste-Free World team to help progress breakthroughs in this field. Restoring the conservation values on this site is a focus, as when it was acquired, it was degraded and hazardous to the surrounding communities.
Major steps have already been undertaken to understand the Ebenezer site’s environmental condition and assess its potential as an innovative resource recovery and recycling precinct. QUT and Waste-Free World’s reports and recommendations will contribute new knowledge and ideas about how Wanless can best manage this site.
“Wanless is allowing QUT students to apply learnings from their degree to an environmental challenge faced on many legacy industrial sites,” says Associate Professor Fuller.
Rebuilding biodiversity corridors
Wanless wants to work with the Waste-Free World team to test some of their innovations. In the meantime, Wanless is partnering with QUT on research related to groundwater, surface water and vegetation. This research will contribute new knowledge and innovative ideas about how Wanless can best manage the degraded mining site. One of the first research projects off the ground involves students assessing two vegetation communities at the site.
When Wanless conducted its environmental assessments, certain remnant and high-value regrowth vegetation communities were identified, ones described as ‘of concern’ and ‘endangered’ under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act (1999).
QUT Associate Professor Susan Fuller is supervising an environmental science student research team to assess and analyse the two vegetation communities and the soil on which they grow. The aim is to identify potential restoration activities that will potentially link the site to biodiversity corridors in the region.
The QUT team has conducted vegetation surveys in the ‘endangered’ swamp paperbark forest (regional ecosystem 12.3.18 and essential habitat for the endangered plant, Melaleuca irbyana) and the ‘of concern’ woodland dominated by narrow-leaved ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra; regional ecosystem 12.9-10.7 and essential habitat for the koala).
The researchers are now comparing areas of non-remnant and remnant native vegetation with benchmark data. This will provide a baseline for future assessments and deliver Wanless recommendations about how to restore non-remnant areas. As the success of restoration activities is highly dependent on the soil, the research team have also taken soil samples and will conduct a soil analysis of each site.
Other research projects
Dr Lucy Reading is a Senior Lecturer at QUT’s School of Biology and Environmental Science. She is supervising the research of five students who are assessing groundwater at the Wanless site and its interaction with vegetation and surface water.
QUT Associate Professor Sara Couperthwaite is leading the third research team that has developed an innovative way to improve water monitoring using a robotic boat. The team will test the full capabilities of their boat for the first time at Ebenezer in the coming months. The QUT student research teams started their projects in August and will present their findings to Wanless later this year.