Mark Woods

Mark Woods

Abstract | Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade fauna connectivity strategy

The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga to Ballina is one of the largest road infrastructure projects in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Over its 156 kilometre length, the project traverses numerous endangered ecological communities and habitat for numerous threatened fauna species. Roads and traffic have the potential to negatively impact on wildlife connectivity by creating a barrier to movement and causing wildlife mortality. The highway upgrade must continue to service the needs of the travelling public, achieve transport efficiencies, and meet the needs of the coastal communities that live along the highway, while also ensuring wildlife connectivity is maintained. This connectivity is essential for the survival of species, populations and ecological communities along the project length.

The project team worked with numerous ecologists, threatened species experts, designers and construction personnel in the development of wildlife connectivity solutions for the upgrade. This included extensive pre-construction ecological survey efforts such as vegetation and habitat mapping, the development of detailed design solutions to cater for different species requirements, and adopting a set of standardised designs to use across the project rather than bespoke solutions at each location. The project team also undertook extensive consultation with NSW and Commonwealth agencies throughout the entire process from Environmental Impact Assessment phase through to design development and construction.

This presentation provides details of the approach taken during the development of Woolgoolga to Ballina connectivity strategy. The strategy developed for the project has resulted in the provision of over 300 fauna connectivity structures along the project, in addition to extensive fauna fencing. This work builds on past successes on the previous Pacific Highway Upgrade projects and refines areas based on latest knowledge and industry practice. The result will be improved fauna connectivity opportunities and improved guidance to future projects within RMS and beyond.

Bio | Mark Woods

Mark is an Environmental Officer with NSW Roads and Maritime Services who has worked in various environmental sections within RMS over the last 12 years, including environmental planning and assessment, regional environment projects, and the last eight years in the Pacific Highway Office. Working on the Pacific Highway upgrade projects has required a large amount of government agency and stakeholder engagement through all stages of major project development – EIA, through to construction and the operational phase of the project. Throughout this time Mark has also had substantial experience in working with multiple organisations from the environmental industry, including designers, consultants, technical specialists, and construction organisations. This experience across all phases of projects from small and large provides Mark with the ability to assist project teams to identify and manage environmental risks, and facilitate the achievement of environmental best practice for RMS projects.