About this Document
This report presents the findings of a project exploring an approach to ecological conceptual modelling aimed at improving the assessment of water-related ecological impacts of coal seam gas extraction and coal mining in Australia. The approach is presented as a series of consecutive steps and illustrated worked examples, and is aimed at assisting the preparation and review of environmental impact statements (EISs). Through the construction of ecological conceptual models and associated narrative tables that specify hypothesised responses and document supporting evidence, the assumptions about ecological impacts incorporated into EISs are made explicit, response pathways identified and interactive and cumulative effects illustrated. This provides a transparent and consistent framework for the design of monitoring programmes to test the implicit hypotheses.
This work highlights the need for the approaches to modelling and conceptualisation of hydrology and hydrogeology currently used in EISs to be extended to incorporate ecological components. This will facilitate the production of ecohydrological models capable of illustrating likely water‑related ecological responses to coal seam gas extraction and coal mining.
Application of the proposed approach is expected to:
- enhance capability in the resources industries to identify and predict the water-related impacts of coal seam gas extraction and coal mining, through uptake of the approach to ecological conceptual modelling and integration of the ecological modelling approach with hydrological and hydrogeological modelling and conceptualisation
- improve identification and understanding of the potential water-related ecological responses to coal seam gas extraction and coal mining in Australia, achieved through assisting the IESC in its evaluation of EIS documentation for coal seam gas and coal mining proposals and provision of advice to regulators
- provide a framework for ecological conceptual modelling that could be drawn upon in the bioregional assessments.