Biodiversity is an essential component to the sustainability of all human activity, including business. Risks affiliated with biodiversity loss include lost capacity and security of energy, food, medicine, genetic, and industrial resources, and lost capacity of natural systems regulating freshwater, soil and air, extreme disturbance events, pest and pathogens, and pollination and seed dispersal. Improving biodiversity therefore sits at the heart of sustainable business, including GPT’s business, as it secures and protects essential goods and services upon which society depends.
In 2023, following the successful delivery of GPT’s biodiversity assessment pilot, GPT aims to expand biodiversity assessments across the organisation’s asset portfolio via the ‘Biodiversity Assessment Project’ (BAP). The BAP’s primary aims are to establish baseline biodiversity extent and condition across all GPT assets, and to explore the ways in which asset biodiversity management plans contribute to their objectives of maintaining and improving biodiversity extent and condition. The BAP also aims to contribute to GPT’s data collection and reporting disclosure requirements under industry leading disclosure frameworks (e.g. Taskforce for Nature Related Financial Disclosure). GPT’s assessment and disclosure commitments under the BAP sit at the heart of GPT’s biodiversity policy and 'nature positive' vision.
There are a multitude of benefits Rouse Hill and its adjacent environment will receive from delivering the BAP and biodiversity management plan. Some examples include the opportunity to:
- Increase greenspace resilience to invasive species incursion;
- Improve provision of habitat and pollination services;
- Protect and enhancing local landscape character and cultural values;
- Increase local indigenous group greenspace design and management collaboration;
- Increase recognition, engagement, and celebration of local community and/or indigenous values;
- Provide respectful well considered spaces for cultural ceremonies, including but not limited to Welcome to Country ceremonies;
- Improve greenspace vegetation structure and connectivity;
- Identify opportunity for ‘heat-island’ mitigation;
- Opportunity for strategic implementation and enhancement of water sensitive urban design features, etc.
In particular, Rouse Hill is focusing on the opportunity for strategic implementation and enhancement of non-living habitat features, through the use of 'Bee Hotels' and 'Lizard Lounges'. Bee hotels provide an opportunity to contribute toward supporting populations of insectivores (i.e., bird, bat, and lizard populations) and increase provision of local pollination services. Improving the diversity and prevalence of native wasps through provision of bee hotels also contributes to the biological control of invasive insect pest species such as the Cabbage Moth larvae and Aphids. Lizard lounges provide structures for lizards to hide from predators, ambush prey, and effectively thermoregulate. Lizard lounges may present as rockwork or stacks of hollow terracotta pipes (or equivalent material) and may be strategically implemented to deter snakes. Larger greenspaces, present ideal locations to employ such habitat structures.
As such, Rouse Hill Town Centre's approach is to minimise and manage ecological impacts, incidents and pollution by using a risk-based approach to managing activities and areas within our assets and setting minimum standards and requirements for products such as chemicals. We also assess the biodiversity impacts of greenspaces at our assets and invest in reforestation programs that support our goals while sequestering carbon and improving water quality.
In 2022, GPT secured 500k tonnes of carbon offsets via the ‘Restoring Country for Climate’ project - a collaborative native biodiverse reforestation project restoring 1,100 hectares of ex-plantation estate within the Noosa Hinterland, QLD. The forest is being revegetated at 400 stems per hectare with predominantly canopy climax species over five years (currently in second year). This equates to planting 440,000 trees/seedings over the duration of the project. The primary ecological communities being restored include:
- RE12.9-10.17 - Eucalyptus acmenoides, E. major, E. siderophloia +/- Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata open forest on sedimentary rocks (view here), and
- RE: 12.9-10.1 - Tall open forest often with Eucalyptus resinifera, E. grandis, E. robusta and Corymbia intermedia on sedimentary rocks (view here).
GPT’s agreement with Greenfleet provides certainty of offset supply, quality and cost for approximately the next five years, helping GPT commit to bold nature positive targets, including upfront embodied carbon neutrality.