Authors: Lacy, HWB; File, T; Biggs, B


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Lacy, HWB, File, T & Biggs, B 2008, 'Ecosystem Function Analysis: Measuring and Monitoring for Mine Closure and Completion in Australia and Abroad — 1994 to 2008', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 321-333,

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The application of ecosystem function analysis (EFA) in Australia has, at times, been considered a controversial process as it evolved from an earlier application, landscape function analysis (LFA), which was used to assess the sustainability of rangeland environments. EFA was developed by CSIRO as a monitoring tool for wider application. Its potential for application in other environments was soon realized and it has proven to be a valuable tool in the assessment and measurement of the functional processes in mine rehabilitation. In the mining industry, it involves assessment of four components namely landscape function analysis, vegetation, erosion, and habitat complexity, using simple, scientifically-validated indicators. EFA involves monitoring a range of parameters which relate to the biophysical functioning of the landscape and provides a relatively simple, cost-effective, repeatable system to scientists and managers as to how rehabilitation programmes are developing and performing over time. EFA has the potential to play a critical role in a balanced environmental monitoring strategy in any mining or landform rehabilitation programme. EFA can fill the gap between superficial monitoring programmes, that cover large areas, primarily targeted at identifying changes or trends in the environment, such as remote sensing and aerial photography as well as intensive ground-based monitoring programmes such as fauna and flora surveys. This paper discusses the role that EFA can play in providing information that links the development of vegetation, soils and nutrients with ecosystems and enables rapid detection of any requirement for intervention or implementation of more detailed or focused studies. Moreover it develops the role EFA can play in a balanced and integrated toolbox of monitoring techniques which are efficient, cost effective and provide the necessary data to enable managers to make informed decisions on their rehabilitation programmes. The paper also discusses the present application of EFA/LFA monitoring techniques in Australia, and other parts of the world and how these techniques are used in different regimes to complete rehabilitation and closure.

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