As bilby populations continue to be under threat from unsuitable fire regimes and predators, a collaboration between Buru Energy and Murdoch University is ensuring they thrive with the help of some award-winning research.

The collaboration began with Buru Energy wanting to expand the current knowledge of bilby populations in the West Kimberley region in WA.

While the marsupial’s status has been listed as ‘vulnerable’ Australia-wide, the West Kimberley region is one of the few areas in Australia where healthy populations of bilbies occur, making it the perfect location to study the bilby in its natural habitat.

To maximise the value of the research to other groups working on bilbies in the region, Buru partnered with Murdoch University to deliver the project with the research forming the basis of a PhD project between 2014 and 2018.

When conducting fieldwork, the researchers also worked closely with local Traditional Owner ranger groups including the Yawuru Land and Sea Unit and Nyikina Mangala rangers. This added valuable cultural knowledge of bilbies and the surrounding environment into the project.

This collaboration also provided the opportunity for the ranger groups to collect information regarding culturally important flora and fauna in the area for inclusion in their cultural management plans and spatial datasets.

This multifaceted research collaboration was a great success, recently winning the 2018 Environment Project Excellence Award from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) where the judges found the project to be “a notable example of the company’s culture of environmental protection.”

More importantly, the research adds to the knowledge of the bilbies diet, habitat, movement patterns role in the local ecosystem in the West Kimberley region. As all information from the project has been made available without restriction, this will help Buru and other land users in the region undertake their operations to minimise their impact on bilbies.