BHP Billiton’s Sustainable Communities charitable organisation will support the Bush Blitz program – a ground breaking species discovery partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia – to help document the biodiversity of one of Australia’s most striking wilderness areas – the Kimberley.
According to the media release by BHP, the company has thus far invested more than US$4 million in the partnership which has discovered at least 700 new species since its launch in 2010.
BHP Billiton President – HSE, Marketing and Technology, Mike Henry, said BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities’ support for the program was consistent with BHP Billiton’s focus on supporting strong partnerships.
“BHP Billiton is committed to operating sustainably, which is one of Our Charter values. The Bush Blitz program is generating long-term, positive and sustainable outcomes for Australia and our Company is proud to be a part of an initiative that is making a real difference in building deeper knowledge of Australia’s unique biodiversity,” he said.
“Supporting biodiversity is important to us – we do this at BHP Billiton mine sites through our land management practices and through our contribution to programs such as Bush Blitz which are leading to a greater understanding of the unique biodiversity values found in Australia. I am really excited for everyone taking part in the program, particularly the Traditional Owners and teachers who are playing a key role in the Kimberley Blitz.”
The 21st Bush Blitz kicked-off on 26 May in the eastern Kimberley on the Aboriginal owned Karunjie and Durack stations. Already there are reports of discovery of many new species, including new true bugs, spiders, a fish and pseudoscorpions. Traditional Owners and teachers are participating in the program, as well as a number of high profile scientists and BHP’s own environmental professionals.
The Kimberley Bush Blitz also includes a sub project called Bush Blitz TeachLive, an interactive educational experience for science teachers and their students. Science teachers are given a unique professional development experience and are able to teach ‘live’ back to their classrooms via the Bush Blitz TeachLive website.
BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities Director, Ian Wood, said 43 BHP Billiton employees have participated in seven expeditions since 2010.
“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 and by the end of the expedition they have a broader understanding of Australia’s unique biodiversity and ecosystems.”