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Environmental site assessment is a broad term that describes assessing or investigating particular features of the environment that need to be managed or documented as part of an environmental approvals process. Environmental site investigations can be undertaken for a wide variety of reasons and can be basic or complex from investigating plant species present to investigating flora, fauna, geology, hydrology, soils, groundwater, contamination and how all these factors interact.
A range of wetland types exist on the Swan Coastal Plain and in regional Western Australia, including permanent and seasonal lakes. Each has a range of ecological, environmental and social values that require ongoing management. Wetland assessment activities often include review of current site characteristics, social and historical values, catchment areas, water quality, threatening processes, flora, vegetation and fauna. Appropriate management and mitigation strategies can then be documented in a management plan.
Soils have a close association with flora, vegetation and fauna. Environmental assessment activities will usually include the broad identification of the soil type present at a particular location, along with a description of what is actually present on site. When required, soil sampling is also carried out to determine the presence of nutrients, minerals or contamination.
The presence of contamination has the potential to result in negative impacts to flora and fauna in a particular location. Preliminary indicators of contamination include soil discolouration, odour, and the presence of fragments of materials such as asbestos. Assessment of contamination can include visual assessment of the site and the collection of soil samples to determine what materials are present and at what concentration, the outcomes of which will inform future decisions about site management.