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Biodiversity

GPT is committed to making a positive contribution to biodiversity, in the local environment wherever possible, and will also support and encourage others where it can meaningfully do so.

Background and Policy

GPT recognises the intrinsic value of biodiversity, while understanding the interdependence between healthy and diverse ecosystems and the wellbeing of society.

The Group is aware that the property sector can have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity and that these may occur as a direct result of the business or indirectly through the value chain. At the most basic level, GPT recognises the direct tension in terms of land use, in that land occupied by commercial buildings replaces natural ecosystems and reduces available habitat.

GPT’s development activities typically occur within existing urban and brownfield sites. The design, construction and maintenance of assets can directly impact on biodiversity through selection and use of materials and the protection and creation of natural environments within the assets.

The commitments and intended approach to managing biodiversity focuses primarily on responding to the direct and local impacts of GPT’s operations. Other policies are in place to reduce energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste to landfill and cut demand for potable water use. These interconnected policies relate to the larger scale indirect impacts on biodiversity. Where there are opportunities to have a broader impact, the business will do so through supporting and encouraging others to take action to protect biodiversity. GPT’s commitments and approach to biodiversity management are outlined in the Biodiversity Policy.

Approach to new developments

GPT has demonstrated strong biodiversity practices for new developments. Biodiversity has been a key element of sustainability briefs issued for major projects such as Rouse Hill Town Centre, Charlestown Square and Highpoint Shopping Centre. Each of these briefs included biodiversity targets above and beyond regulatory requirements, with targets monitored as part of the project delivery process and ongoing operation.

Through each of these projects GPT had the opportunity to leave a legacy of restoring part of the local environment utilising native planting, providing both fauna habitat and enhancing stormwater flow-offs.

Initiatives

A number of initiatives are underway to help make a positive contribution to biodiversity at GPT’s sites. These include:

  1. Biodiversity measurement tool
  2. Supplier requirements addressing biodiversity

Biodiversity Measurement Tool

Unlike carbon and water, there is no widely used or accepted standard for measuring the value of biodiversity. To overcome this challenge, GPT developed a practical biodiversity measure that will enables the establishment of a baseline for on site biodiversity also allowing for tracking the performance at sites.

Our process has been shared with the Green Building Council of Australia and it has formed a basis for the biodiversity component of the Green Star Performance Tool.

Supplier requirements

GPT understands that biodiversity can be directly and indirectly impacted through our operations and those of our suppliers. Consequently, biodiversity criteria are explicitly included in supplier pre-qualification and selection process for relevant services. For example, landscaping service selection criteria includes consideration of expertise and experience in relation to factors such as:

  • chemical management and selection to minimise environmental impact in use, manufacture and disposal;
  • native and local species selection and management in order to provide a variety of different structures (shrub and ground cover, mid-storey and over-storey) and a range of fast, medium and slow growing species;
  • irrigation and selection of drought tolerant and water efficient plants which are suitable for the local climate, geology and soil type;
  • fauna habitat, including design of landscapes to be consistent with adjacent lands and other wildlife and waterway corridors; and
  • multi-functionality, and selection of plants with more than one function e.g. shading, food producing (nectar, fruit or seeds) and habitat for vulnerable local fauna such as bats, butterflies and birds.

Raising biodiversity awareness

Biodiversity is a poorly understood subject in the property industry. However reviews have revealed that it is a topic of interest amongst GPT employees.

Given the potential impact of operations on biodiversity, GPT regularly conducts biodiversity awareness training for all of its operations managers as well as contractors such as cleaners and waste companies.

Performance examples

The majority of GPT assets are located in ‘brownfield’, highly urbanised areas that have been previously developed and therefore have limited biodiversity value. However, GPT have developed sites and implemented innovative practices such as the creation of an impressive green space in Sydney’s Darling Park to provide an opportunity for city workers to connect with green spaces.

Rouse Hill Town Centre

The Rouse Hill Town Centre site pre-development was a golf course with little biodiversity value, giving GPT the opportunity to “restore” this value through the use of various biodiversity controls.

Landscaping in the Town Centre was undertaken to achieve biodiversity targets consistent with those for nearby Caddies Creek and as far as possible be designed to mitigate the necessity for artificial watering. As a result, 40% of the site area was protected as open space and 20% was revegetated to the local natural standard.

A saline soil management strategy was prepared and enacted as part of the soils plan in each of the site Environmental Management Plans (EMPs). These EMPs covered environmental issues including (but not limited to) soil erosion, dust, stormwater, waste, recycling, energy conservation through construction, vehicle movement and noise.

A voluntary target was set which required 30% of the site biodiversity values to be reinstated through the adoption of an 80% endemic planting target. This target was formally monitored through the project delivery process by GPT’s development and sustainability management teams.

Outcomes included:

  • use of bio-swales and ponds covering 400m2 for toxics removal from stormwater prior to entering Caddies Creek;
  • gross pollutant traps to filter stormwater;
  • planting of more than 130,000 trees and plants, with greater than 80% being indigenous;
  • limiting the size of the rainwater collection tank to maintain the environmental flows within Caddies Creek;
  • a Secret Garden providing insulation, stormwater management and an extension to green space;
  • working with the existing site topography and vegetation to minimise the project’s impact;
  • communicating messages on stormwater grates to educate visitors and staff on the importance of considering what we put down the drain for the benefit of the flora and fauna in the area; and
  • using timbers which come from sustainably managed forests rather than old growth forests that disrupt the natural ecosystems.

Highpoint Shopping Centre

Located on an old quarry site in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong, Highpoint Shopping Centre has undertaken a development significantly expanding the NLA. The development team of this asset set strong environmental target for construction and operations at completion.

Specific targets were set to minimise impact on biodiversity for:

  • materials used
  • stormwater management
  • Further to the construction impacts, the significant tract of land surrounding Highpoint provided the opportunity to improve the biodiversity of the green spaces. Attributes of the green spaces include:
  • Native and endemic species used for the majority of the new landscaping planted;
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) incorporating rain gardens and bio swales have been installed in a space constrained and built up environment. Planting for the rain gardens and bio swales again uses native and endemic species. The WSUD controls the stormwater runoff from the site as well as cleans and treats the runoff before it returns to the local environment and waterways. The stormwater runoff from Highpoint is part of the catchment area for the Maribyrnong River so it is important that stormwater is effectively managed and treated

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