Nearly two-thirds of Australia’s Curtis Island, near Gladstone, is protected for environmental conservation as a result of an initiative by the three Curtis Island liquified natural gas (LNG) operators, including ConocoPhillips Australia as downstream operator of Australia Pacific LNG. The LNG companies worked to consolidate a number of properties on the island in order to protect a range of critical environments within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The 2019 transfer of 3,200 hectares (about 7,900 acres) of land to government ownership to form the Curtis Island Conservation Park is the final step in achieving the goal of safeguarding the island’s unique ecology and heritage for future generations.
Additionally, the LNG companies contributed $34.5 million AUD (about $23.8 million USD) for the preservation and ongoing management of the area.
“These LNG-funded conservation measures alone protect over 44% of Curtis Island. Combined with existing conservation and national parks, more than 59% of Curtis Island is set aside for environmental protection. This is compared to the 2% used by the LNG facilities on the southern tip,” said Jason Charton, General Manager HSE at ConocoPhillips Australia.
Federal and state environmental approvals to develop the LNG facilities on Curtis Island require biodiversity offsets to counterbalance the disturbance made by the facilities. Establishment of the conservation park is a direct offset of a significantly larger magnitude than required by those regulations.
The Curtis Island Conservation Park is located within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area and features marine plain and saltpan ecosystems. These terrains are important to migratory shorebirds and serves as breeding habitat for the Capricorn Yellow Chat. Additionally, there are significant undisturbed coastal ecosystems, and more than 500 hectares (about 1,235 acres) of wetlands, including mangroves, salt flats and salt marshes, and floodplain tree swamps that are a nursery area for fish and crustacean species.