Scott Lawrence

Scott Lawrence

Abstract | Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade koala management

The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and 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. One of the key threatened species impacted by the project is the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). The project passes through koala habitat in what is locally known as the ‘Ballina Koala population’ which was already shown to be in decline from pre-existing conditions.

To mitigate impacts to the Koala population the project has developed and implemented innovative design and Koala management solutions. The project team worked with numerous Koala experts, ecologists, NSW Office of the Chief Scientist, road designers and engineers as well as regulatory agencies to develop range of integrated measures to minimise impacts on the Ballina Koala population.

This presentation provides detail on new approaches being implemented, in particular phased resource reduction in which koala food trees were ringbarked or collared over a number of months prior to mainline clearing occurring and through monitoring cortisol levels from koala scats how koala stress levels have changed in response to this approach. The presentation will also provide detail on design solutions being employed for koala grids at interchange locations, benefits of installing temporary koala fencing on existing roads prior to clearing commencing, considerations that led to successful re-vegetation establishment and on-the ground practices being implemented during construction phase to get the construction contractor behaviours/culture right.

Bio | Scott Lawrence

Scott is the Environmental Manager of the multi-billion dollar Pacific Highway Upgrading program and has worked in the field of environmental management and infrastructure for the last 18 years, the last 8 years as the Environmental Manager Pacific Highway leading dedicated team of environmental professionals. Scott has extensive experience in environmental impact assessment, integrating environmental design, implementation of construction environmental measures, project management and overseeing ecological monitoring programs.

Throughout Scott’s career his engagement with community and a diverse range of stakeholders often with divergent views has been integral in identifying and managing environmental risks ensuring the successful delivery of the Pacific Highway Upgrade Program.