Excellence in post-mining restoration within a global biodiversity hotspot in Western Australia.
Perth - the capital city of Western Australia - sits at the centre of one of the world's 34 global biodiversity hotspots. For Hanson Construction Materials (Hanson), one of Australia's leading suppliers of heavy materials to the building industry, the extraction of sand in the south-west of Western Australia presents significant environmental and social challenges in demonstrating leading practice within public view. This article outlines a 21-year research partnership forged between Hanson and the Western Australian Government's Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority to tackle the complex environmental and biodiversity issues associated with post-mining restoration of iconic Banksia woodland communities. Once a common and widespread feature of the Swan Coastal Plain on which the Perth metropolitan area has developed, today there remains less than 10% of the original Banksia woodlands, yet this ecosystem alone contains more plant species than all of the plant species found in the United Kingdom! The research partnership tested ecological restoration theory based on melding the principles of adaptive management (decisions made on the basis of lessons learned) with integrated restoration science (linking core restoration disciplines-topsoil handling, mulch and seed enhancement treatments). The success of the research partnership has been a demonstration of innovation, leadership and environmental excellence with Hanson now having the highest levels of species and plant reinstatement per unit area of post-mined restoration in the Australian resources sector.