Downer’s approach to biodiversity, conservation and land use management is to carry out our activities in a compliant and responsible manner that protects biodiversity and ecosystems. Prior to disturbance activities, ecological assessments are undertaken to identify key species and habitats. Downer commits to, and requires its supply chain to, avoid operational activities near sites containing biodiversity of global or national significance.
Downer takes biodiversity into consideration when planning projects that could potentially impact areas with high biodiversity value. The organisation follows the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in Australia and the Resource Management Act 1991 in New Zealand, which aligns with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species.
In these circumstances, Downer or our customers seeks approval from the relevant regulatory authority and commits to the implementation of the mitigation hierarchy to avoid, minimise, restore and offset potential or actual impacts from these activities.
Regardless of who receives the approvals, Downer’s management response and controls are the same and apply to our suppliers and subcontractors. Downer has well established biodiversity management and biosecurity procedures and standards, which address the risks related to biodiversity. At a site level, a threatened species management plan and a conservation plan are created for each site when an approval is triggered. These plans include preventative and mitigatory controls to protect biodiversity in affected areas.
In Australia, the goal of the EPBC Act is to provide a ‘net benefit’ – and therefore in some cases, offsets are required where our operations are unable to achieve the desired net benefit to local species.
We also contribute positively to biodiversity through the services that we deliver. Our land management services within the Defence business is one example. The services we deliver ensure that protections are in place if Defence operations overlap with protected areas of national significance or areas of high biodiversity value.
We’re also conscious of the biosecurity risks (pests and pathogens) that can be transported to our worksites – and the impact that could have on local ecosystems. This is controlled by our environmental management system through our monitoring and inspection regime.
Across Downer’s operational sites, there are 34 species of National Significance consisting of eight flora species and 26 fauna species, and four ecological communities under our management. In FY22, there have been no breaches of our national significant biodiversity management system within Australia or New Zealand.
For further information, please refer to Downer’s Biodiversity of National Significance Register.