An important partnership between our Illawarra Metallurgical Coal (IMC) operation and the Australian Institute of Botanical Science (AIBS) is restoring an endangered plant population.
Persoonia hirsuta or ‘hairy geebung’ is a nationally endangered shrub found throughout the Sydney region where IMC operates. It has been in gradual decline for the past 20 years or more, but there is a core population at IMC’s Appin mine, where great care is taken to protect and preserve it.
To mitigate the risk of the plant’s extinction, an experimental translocation trial is ongoing at the mine. The first cultivated plants were moved to site in 2021, where their growth and health are closely monitored. The research is focused on maintaining and enhancing the remnant population on offset and rehabilitation areas of mining leases.
So far, the trial has successfully identified several factors for consideration in the ongoing management of the species, including using plant guards and local mulch to reduce the effects of herbivory and drought. It also found that the plants grown from seeds outperformed plants grown from vegetative cuttings.
IMC takes its custodial responsibility for the hairy geebung population at Appin very seriously and has collaborated with AIBS and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan for many years, to learn more about the species that is notoriously difficult to propagate and grow to maturity.
In May 2022, the third stage of the trial saw a further 100 cultivated hairy geebung shrubs translocated to Appin mine and planted with the help of our people.