These funds will be matched by the Australian government to allow the second phase of this Earthwatch-partnered program to continue up to 2017, with $12 million of funding.
“This new funding will send teams of researchers to blitz dozens more remote areas throughout
Australia, uncovering their hidden biodiversity and discovering hundreds of species that are completely new to science,” parliamentary environment secretary Senator Simon Birmingham said.
The first stage of Bush Blitz discovered more than 700 new species between 2010 and 2013, including a water-walking wolf spider in the Kimberley and a native truffle in Victoria.
BHP executive Mike Henry said 43 of its staff had so far participated in seven expeditions of the program.
“BHP Billiton employees act as research assistants in the field and support scientists with trapping species, collecting plant samples and processing specimens,” he said.
“It is a highly regarded professional development opportunity for our people where they learn survey techniques on a wide variety of species. By the end of the expedition they have a broader understanding of Australia’s unique biodiversity and ecosystems.”
He also said the program was consistent with BHP’s target to conserve areas of high biodiversity and ecosystem value of national or international importance “such as the Five Rivers conservation project, where a recent Bush Blitz took place”
The work was also expected to boost BHP’s pool of climate change knowledge.
“By contributing to our understanding of biodiversity, the Bush Blitz program will help inform opportunities to incorporate climate change resilience considerations into conservation management and planning.”