Peter specialises on ecosystem assessment, landscape restoration and the environmental impacts of mining

Peter leads research into the environmental impacts and mitigation impacts from mining on ecosystem function. One of the key areas of his research activities has been to develop a robust set of monitoring methods to ensure mine impacts and rehabilitation outcomes are quantified and understood across diverse ecosystems and climatic zones. Part of this work also includes advancing spatial analysis and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to quantify vegetation condition and ecosystem function across large spatial scales.

We also explore the discovery and use of metallophyte (metal tolerant) plants in mine site rehabilitation and their potential for phytomining. By utilising unusual hyperaccumulator plants that have evolved to absorb and store high concentrations of minerals we assess the application of the plants under a range of environmental conditions. 

Peter is currently the leader of the Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience Program at the SMI. Since completion of his PhD he has worked with non-government organisations, as an environmental consultant and within the University system. Over the last two decades he has conducted research work on landscape restoration and mine rehabilitation. He has conducted this research in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Laos, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia. He has also trained students from a range of countries and taught into undergraduate courses on restoration ecology and plant biology.

Industry

MMG - applied monitoring to inform closure management 
Glencore/Xstrata – two major project (2012-16) to improve the rehabilitation outcomes in Queensland and NSW
Centennial Coal – multiple projects to examine the impacts of long-wall mining on endangered plant communities 
Wesfarmers – novel Unmanned Aerial Vehicle monitoring of rehabilitation 
Queensland Energy Resources – developed multiple closure options and determined likely risk of spent oil shale
Rio tinto – developed completion criteria for rehabilitated ecosystems in the Weipa bauxite mine

Collaborations

Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia - Board member and National Standards Reference Group
University of Lorraine, Nancy, France - Hyperaccumulator discovery and phytomining 
Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist - Ranger uranium mine closure and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems operations
The University of Adelaide - Synchrotron research and metallophytes plants
James Cook University - rainforest restoration work at Thiaki, NQ
China University of Mining and Technology - student supervision

Key Publications

Lamb, D, Erskine, PD and Fletcher, A (2015) Widening gap between expectations and practice in Australian minesite rehabilitation. Ecological Management and Restoration, 16(3): 186-195. doi:10.1111/emr.12179

Erskine, PD and Fletcher, AT. (2013) Novel ecosystems created by coal mines in central Queensland's Bowen Basin. Ecological Processes, 2 33: 1-12. doi:10.1186/2192-1709-2-33

van der Ent, A, Baker, AJM, Reeves, RD., Chaney, RL., Anderson, CWN., Meech, JA., Erskine, PD, Simonnot, MO, Vaughan, J, Morel, JL, Echevarria, Guillaume, Fogliani, B, Rongliang, Q and Mulligan, DR. (2015) Agromining: farming for metals in the future?. Environmental Science and Technology, 49 8: 4773-4780. doi:10.1021/es506031u

Erskine, PD, Lamb, D and Bristow, M (2006) Tree species diversity and ecosystem function: Can tropical multi-species plantations generate greater productivity? Forest Ecology and Management, 233 2-3: 205-210.

Lamb, D, Erskine, PD and Parrotta, JA (2005) Restoration of degraded tropical forest landscapes. Science, 310 5754: 1628-1632. doi:10.1126/science.1111773

Funding

Peter manages a wide portfolio of projects and has been involved in research grants worth $12 million over the last decade.