Pipelines are one of the themes of the December issue. A new approach to managing fauna during construction of major pipelines in Western Australia’s iron ore-rich Pilbara region has saved native wildlife, reduced costs and broadened workforce skills. Earlier this year the KT-OSD Joint Venture successfully completed the construction and commissioning of the 85 km connector from the Goldfields Gas Pipeline to a gas-fired power station at Rio Tinto’s West Angelas iron ore mine.In an address to the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association’s annual conference recently, Project Manager Keith Horstmann explained that changing the approach to managing fauna meant fewer animal losses and better training and work opportunities for the local traditional owners.“Trenches are essentially vast fauna pit traps stretching for kilometres,” Horstmann said. “Once in a trench, fauna face a lack of shelter, extreme heat, dehydration and predation – the cause of previous high fatality levels.”Regulators have since 2004 successfully forced new fauna management conditions which have helped stem fauna losses. However, this has also brought increasing expectations and escalating costs around the need for specialists such as zoologists to be present during a trenching program.“Our focus was on developing the skills needed to minimise fauna losses, which lead to an agreement to develop a unit of competency in fauna management recognised in the national training system, rather than just certificates of participation,” Horstmann said.“There was a larger upfront cost involved in developing this more intensive and tailored fauna training program, but the net cost saving to the West Angelas project was significant. We now hope to continue to work with Polytechnic West, regulators and indigenous employment agencies on future pipeline projects to achieve even better fauna management outcomes.”Rio Tinto Projects Area Manager Wal Terlecki said trenches posed a major environmental risk during pipeline construction and that he was delighted with how the joint venture had dealt with that risk.The KT-OSD Joint Venture elected to build its own fauna knowledge and wildlife handler skills by developing customised training including for indigenous trainees, on fauna identification, rescue and record keeping, and matching it with improved trench inspections and backfilling practices.When not required, the fauna handlers resumed their normal trade assistant or machinery operator duties, thus increasing site manpower efficiency and maximising the workforce’s fauna experience.