Part of the Wiggins Island Rail Project (WIRP) between Dingo and Bluff required the upgrade and extension of numerous culverts.
Pictured: Aurizon’s first test train approaching the Wiggins Island Rail Receival Station (September 2014).
Surveys, using AnaBat™, showed up to 96 microbats from 4 different species roosted within these culverts. Bats produce ultrasonic calls, above the human range of hearing, and orient themselves using echoes of the calls they produce. AnaBat™ is a detection device that records and analyses the ultrasonic calls to identify bat species and monitor their activity.
Although microbats also roost in tree hollows, temperatures in culverts are significantly cooler during the afternoon, when compared to tree roosts, and so provide a more stable microclimate for the species.
Microbats, like all native fauna, are protected under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992.
Aurizon has responsibility to avoid harm, or potential for harm, to these animals and appropriate care is taken to preserve their wellbeing.
To achieve this outcome, a total of 21 bat-specific artificial tree hollows (roosting boxes) were established in adjoining bushland to compensate for temporary impacts to the habitat provided by the culverts.
No microbats were harmed during the project, and monitoring has since demonstrated the animals have successfully returned to the culverts.
Scott Riedel, Vice President Program Delivery said 'The sensitive management of microbat populations is another example of how WIRP has successfully delivered on its environmentally sustainable approach to construction and delivered benefits to local biodiversity values'.