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Vere Ross-Gillespie – DNA-based methods for mine site biodiversity monitoring: A global application

Updated: May 15

Dr Vere Ross-Gillespie, Warwick Mostert, Dr Kat Bruce





As mining companies around the world start to adopt ESG frameworks, many are committing to biodiversity targets that go beyond compliance with International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance standards. Some have gone so far as to adopt Net Positive Impact (NPI) targets for biodiversity across their global portfolio. These commitments feed into all stages of the mitigation hierarchy and throughout the life cycle of the mining assets, ultimately improving workflows for the benefit of nature. They also drive an increased requirement for regular on-site biodiversity monitoring, and there is now a pressing need to maximise the efficiency and scalability of biodiversity surveys while minimising risk to staff and contractors who are often working in challenging and inhospitable landscapes. Innovative DNA-based methods such as eDNA and metabarcoding are allowing for a myriad of taxa to be detected from a range of habitats and geographic locations in a rapid, repeatable and objective manner, thereby augmenting conventional/historic data sets and contributing to the improvement of local genetic reference libraries for future research and surveys. In this talk we will look at what DNA-based methods exist for biodiversity surveys and how they can be applied to a range of management questions, habitats and scales at mining operations across the globe – ultimately informing different stages of the mitigation hierarchy and informing progress towards NPI targets and goals as well as ongoing monitoring. Specific examples will be drawn on from ongoing and planned Anglo American mining operations from business units around the world.


Biography

Vere Ross-Gillespie is a Business Development Manager with NatureMetrics and leads the companies engagement with the extractives sector. He is trained as an aquatic ecologist and entomologist (Zoology) and has 11 years combined research and consulting experience in the extractives and water sectors in Southern Africa and SADC member states. He previously managed a team of freshwater ecologists in a consulting firm based in South Africa and thus brings with extensive field experience having worked on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems across southern & eastern Africa, the sub-tropics, and the Indian Ocean Islands. He has managed numerous projects and impact assessments focusing on a wide range of topics from water quality & chemistry, diatom assessments, bio monitoring, bio remediation, mining solutions, environmental audits, environmental flows /hydropower (e-flows) and river health assessments, river restoration, wetland & ephemeral pan assessments to citizen science, aquatic ecological training courses and workshops. He combines the fields of freshwater ecology and knowledge of the extractives industry to engage stakeholders and clients around the use of innovative DNA-based methods for biodiversity surveys and environmental monitoring.


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