Mining threats to biodiversity and the consequences of a green energy transition


The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, alongside the Convention for Biological Diversity's post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, lay out an ambitious conservation agenda. ‘Bending the curve’ on biodiversity loss will require co-ordination among multiple stakeholders, including industries and governments, to understand and manage a diverse, distant and interacting set of threats to nature. This talk focuses on the role of mining in conservation – both as a key threat to biodiversity and as a sector delivering the materials needed to overcome other threats, such as climate change. I will discuss the challenges of managing biodiversity in mining regions, illustrate how renewable energy production may exacerbate mining threats to biodiversity in some places, and argue that current approaches to mitigating impacts (e.g. biodiversity offsets) are unable to achieve No Net Loss outcomes. These points illustrate the need for (1) better engagement between the conservation community and the mining sector, and (2) new tools that enable consideration of mining threats to biodiversity early in decisions to extract and use minerals.


Dr Laura Sonter is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management at The University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science. Her research focuses on understanding the links between mining activities, biodiversity conservation and provision of ecosystem services in landscapes under increasing human pressure for development. Laura and her research students use spatial datasets and land use change modelling tools to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation policies and inform land management decisions. They work across disciplines (e.g. ecology to geography and economics) and in collaboration with governments, industry and environmental NGOs, and seek to generate the knowledge needed to improve conservation outcomes and achieve sustainable development.


Room 320, Steele Building (#03). Additionally, this seminar will be streamed using the video conferencing software, Zoom. If you would like the link, please email