Biophysical Services

By: Digby Wells Environmental  11-11-2011
Keywords: Biodiversity, Aquatic Assessments

The biophysical environment encompasses the terrestrial flora and fauna, aquatic, wetland and soil elements. The Biophysical Services offered by Digby Wells Environmental covers various environmental aspects, which assist in both the impact identification process and the on-going management and monitoring of the biophysical environment. Digby Wells has a wealth of specialists with experience and expertise in a variety of fields, enabling the company to offer a number of specialist services:

Digby Wells conducts flora and fauna assessments to determine the ecological integrity of the project environment. The flora and fauna aspects are differentiated and studied individually by our specialists; the findings are then combined to determine the ecological state of the terrestrial environment.

Our flora studies and experience include:

  • Surveys for identification and mapping of Red Data, protected and endemic species

  • Surveys of dominant vegetation species and delineating vegetation communities

  • Identification of culturally significant plants

  • Identification of exotic and invasive species

  • Translocation of protected and Red Data species

Our fauna studies an experience include:

  • Surveys for identification and mapping of Red Data, protected, endemic and keystone species

  • Identification of dominant animal species including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods (macroinvertebrates)

  • Assessment of sensitive areas and habitat availability for Red Data/protected species

  • Identification of exotic and invasive species

  • Translocation of protected and Red Data species

Findings and conclusions from the specialist studies are incorporated into a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). The BAP provides strategies and action plans for biodiversity management.

Studies can also include:

  • Evaluation and monitoring of rehabilitated areas to determine if natural plant succession is proceeding and biodiversity is improving

  • Biodiversity monitoring in selected natural areas to give an indication of potential issues or impacts that may arise from various activities

The assessments of aquatic environments (rivers and dams) focus on biological responses as an indicator of ecosystem health. In order to

determine the ecological integrity of the aquatic environment, individual biophysical components of the river or stream areas are assessed.

These components are studied using the following methods:

  • Aquatic Biomonitoring

  • Monitoring of Invertebrates

  • River Integrity (health) Assessments

  • Toxicity Testing

Aquatic assessments of dams are undertaken and utilise the following methods to collect the relevant data:

  • Fish Population Dynamics as an Indicator

  • Biomarker Analysis

  • Fish Health Assessments

  • Telemetry

The assessment of wetland areas is conducted to determine the extent as well as the ecological services offered by the wetland. Soil is used as the primary indicator for wetland areas, although additional components such as vegetation and topography are also utilised on a confirmatory basis. Well-informed and effective wetland management aims to meet a range of wetland management and rehabilitation needs. The WET-Management Series is a set of integrated tools that can be used to assess wetland health and ecosystem services amongst others. Additionally, the series can be used to foster wise wetland management and develop understanding of the driving forces behind the formation and degradation of wetlands.

Soil surveys from a reconnaissance scale, down to the soil series and phases can be performed. Prior to land disturbance for mining or other development purposes, the agricultural and engineering potential of the soil is assessed to enable Digby Wells to provide advice concerning soil management during and after development.

Predictive Soil Mapping (PSM), a tool developed by Digby Wells to better classify soils of an area, makes use of a combination of landscape terrain inputs and top sequence data to determine and delineate soil types more accurately.

The effective management of biodiversity and land uses is now enabled with the development of an interactive Biodiversity and Land-use Management Plan. This interactive tool, presents a management plan that is area and operational specific, providing realistic and and holistic strategies which are now tangible.

The tool requires the delineation of a variety of biodiversity and land-use units for the formulation of specific management strategies. Management strategies are developed for the respective units, considering the current and proposed development of the operation. The interactive tool will allow the user to query and integrate information for the development and conservation of the area.

This tool will also detail the procedures to be conducted for the implementation of the plan, prescribing the urgency of each action item as well as the desired time frames for each management objective. This plan will be developed specifically and in cooperation with the end-user, tailored to meet the required needs.

Increasing global awareness of environmental degradation has resulted in stricter environmental regulation and enforcement thereof, by government and environmental bodies. In keeping with environmental trends, Digby Wells has built the capacity and experience to compile rehabilitation plans to minimise the effect of land disturbance by mining activities both prior to and after land disturbance.

Some critical aspects of rehabilitation include:

  • Land Preparation & Planning

  • Soil Stripping

  • Infrastructure Removal

  • Soil Amelioration

  • Re-establishment of Vegetation

Keywords: Aquatic Assessments, Biodiversity

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