For more than a decade, BHP has partnered with the Australian Government and Earthwatch Australia to deliver Australia’s largest nature discovery program, Bush Blitz, supporting species discovery and biodiversity conservation efforts across Australia.
Since the program began in 2010 Bush Blitz has discovered more than 1850 new species and has added thousands of species records to what is already known, increasing scientific knowledge to help protect biodiversity for generations to come.
This is achieved by connecting specialist taxonomists on biodiversity expeditions, with local communities, Traditional Owners, rangers and Indigenous rangers, landholders, teachers, and BHP employees.
So far there have been almost fifty Bush Blitz expeditions, covering every state and mainland territory of Australia. Chloe Christensen, Environmental Specialist at BHP’s Mt Arthur Coal was fortunate to be selected for the most recent expedition to the Snowy Mountains. It’s an opportunity that she has been keen to do since starting at BHP five years ago.
“It was an amazing experience,” shares Chloe. “I joined over 20 other scientists across a range of fields for the seven day trip. Entomologists, arachnologists, botanists, museum curators, PHD students and teachers from across NSW and Victoria came together to collaborate thanks to this amazing program.
“The first day was a community event held in Jindabyne where we had stalls and displays and got to share with the general public what the program is all about. Then over the next five days it was fields trips into the Snowy Mountains. To reach some areas we flew in by helicopter which was very exciting.
“Each day was different, from searching for carnivorous plants with a PHD student to looking for spiders with an arachnologist. It was great to be in the field and working with people who have dedicated their lives to research and protecting biodiversity.”
The Bush Blitz program is also future focused, empowering school teachers to develop scientific skills. Throughout the expedition the teachers were livestreaming or recording for their classes to inspire the next generation of scientists.
While Chloe has a scientific background, the work she does at Mt Arthur Coal is quite different to the work of the other scientists on the trip so it was a great learning opportunity for her. She also was able to share some insights about her own work.
“I was able to educate them on what mining companies do environmentally, such as how we go about rehabilitation and how we effectively manage our impacts.”
BHP has invested $10 million in the program which has discovered more than 1850 new species and has added thousands of species records. This expedition saw the discovery of three new species of spider. A warrior huntsman with a shield on its chest, a tiny 3mm jumping spider that looks like a liquorice-all-sort and a wraparound spider that impersonates a tree branch.
It’s an extraordinary contribution to the protection of Australia’s natural heritage.