Mihkel Proos

Principal Environmental Consultant and Approvals Specialist, BApp Sc., MEIANZ

Mihkel is the founder and Principal Environmental Consultant with Connect Environmental. He has a keen interest in terrestrial ecology and, combined with his extensive experience in environmental approvals and management, has developed an 'outside the box' perspective on problem solving.


His 16 years’ experience in the environmental field has encompassed environmental approvals, environmental management, terrestrial ecology, impact assessment, strategic assessments, protected area management and threatened species policy. He has undertaken projects in many parts of Australia, both in government and as an environmental consultant. His repertoire of skills has been utilised for projects in linear infrastructure (power, rail, road and water), mining, wind farms, water infrastructure, water storage, Defence tenure, and residential and industrial developments. 


Having extensively travelled Australia, Mihkel came to realise the importance of finding a profession that he loved and enriched the life he lived with friends and family. This is the connection he strives for, the perfect balance between nature and nurture.


Mihkel is a member of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ - NT Division), the NT Field Naturalists, the Darwin Mining Club and the Energy Club NT.


Notable Experience


AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ENVIRONMENT ASSESSMENTS

Strategic Assessments under Part 10 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)

Over a two-year period, Mihkel worked on several strategic assessments under Part 10 of the EPBC Act, including:

  • BHP Billiton’s iron ore mining, Pilbara, WA 
  • Hamersley Iron Ore Pty Ltd’s iron ore mining, Pilbara, WA 
  • South Australian Government Fire Management Policy.

Individual Project Assessments under Parts 7 to 9 of the EPBC Act

  • Iron ore projects, Pilbara, WA - Rio Tinto (Yandicoogina), FMG (Christmas Creek, Nydinghu), Atlas Iron (Abydos)
  • Savage River iron ore mine, Grange Resources, Tasmania
  • NSW wind farms – Sapphire, Bango, Collector, White Rock
  • Tasmanian Irrigation Schemes – Upper Ringarooma, South East Stage 3
  • Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, NSW
  • Flying Fox Relocation – Sydney Botanic Gardens, NSW
  • NSW residential developments – Kellyville.


ECOLOGICAL ASSESSMENTS

Mihkel has undertaken over 30 ecological assessments across Australia, primarily in the Top End of the NT, and southern NSW / north-eastern Victoria. He has led field teams undertaking surveys for all terrestrial vertebrate fauna groups including birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs. He is an avid ornithologist, who’s passion for birds blossomed during university where he worked at the Ettamogah Wildlife Sanctuary and helped with numerous community and university-led biodiversity surveys. Shortly after, he started his career as a Technical Officer with Ettamogah Research Consultants in NSW in 2002. The following provides a brief account of his most notable ecological work over the last 20 years.


2015 to 2018, Vista Gold Australia Pty Ltd - Gouldian Finch Investigations, Yinberrie Hills, NT

Mihkel led the investigations required to determine the most appropriate monitoring, impact mitigation and offsetting strategies for the threatened Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) in the Yinberrie Hills, 55 km north of Katherine, NT, related to the Mt Todd Gold Project. This required impact assessments in the fields of air quality, habitat loss or modification, and Gouldian Finch distribution, abundance and health.

He established and chaired a Mt Todd Gouldian Finch Technical Advisory Committee with members comprising some of Australia's leading Gouldian Finch ecologists. This work led to the incorporation of a unique set of environmental and ecological indicators, with the latter focussing on stress physiology and body condition, into a dedicated Gouldian Finch monitoring and mitigation program for Mt Todd. He collaborated with the Charles Darwin University, NT Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Jawoyn Association, and Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE). His work significantly contributed to Vista Gold receiving their approval under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in early 2018. 

Further information on the project can be found at http://vistagold.com/2018/01/vista-gold-environmental-program/.


2015-2016, Ceccon Transport Pty Ltd - Threatened species, weed and rehabilitation assessments and strategies in the Howard Sand Plains

The Howard Sand Plains are located 30 km east of Darwin, and are an area of environmental importance. The area is utilised by the extractives industry as a  source of sand and gravel to service the Darwin construction industry. Mihkel undertook threatened species, weed and rehabilitation assessments for a key client in this area, the data of which he used to develop management strategies that incorporated their sand and gravel extraction plans. 


2015-2018, Biodiversity assessments for mining, exploration and commercial developers in the NT

Mihkel undertook numerous biodiversity assessments and threatened species management plans for his mining, exploration and built environment clients in the Top End of the NT. These were required for Mining Management Plans or approvals documentation including Notices of Intent under the NT Environment Assessment Act.  Clients included:

  • Core Exploration Ltd (NT)
  • Landbridge Hotel Properties Pty Ltd (NT)
  • Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd (NT)
  • CSA Global (NT).


2010, Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) - Research of key knowledge gaps in the ecological character of the Cobourg Peninsula Ramsar site, Northern Territory – Aquatic flora and fauna and physicochemical assessment

Mihkel led the implementation of this project, including procurement, logistics, administration, sourcing and managing appropriate technical support and author. The project objective was to research several key ecological and physicochemical knowledge gaps in the Cobourg Peninsula Ramsar site by gaining an improved understanding of:

  • The location, extent and types of wetlands (following the Ramsar wetland type classification) present in the Ramsar site at the time of the site’s listing as a Ramsar site in 1974, in addition to the present day wetlands; 
  • The key freshwater fauna (including invertebrates) and flora species currently present in the Cobourg Peninsula wetlands 
  • The current physicochemical water properties in each wetland type. 

Data collected was used in the development of the Ecological Character Description for the Ramsar Site. The Cobourg Peninsula Ramsar Site is located 163 km (570 km by road) northeast of Darwin within the Northern Territory of Australia. The resultant report can be viewed at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/research-key-knowledge-gaps-ecological-character-cobourg-peninsula-ramsar-site-northern

Mihkel Proos - Principal at Connect Environmental
Mihkel Proos - Principal at Connect Environmental

2005-2009, numerous fauna surveys across northern Australia 

  • Level One vertebrate fauna survey for Dampier Nitrogen Pty Ltd in King Bay/Hearson Cove Industrial Estate on the Burrup Peninsula, WA 
  • Vertebrate fauna assessment for a proposed residential development, Xstrata, Howard Springs, NT 
  • Vertebrate fauna assessment for Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd, Turee Syncline Iron Ore Project, Paraburdoo, WA 
  • Vertebrate fauna and habitat assessment in Caranbirini Conservation Reserve, NT 
  • Avifauna surveys of the Darwin River, NT, for the assessment of potential impacts on biodiversity from the herbicide 2,4-D ester used for Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana) eradication 
  • Targeted Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni) surveys in Darwin harbour, NT 
  • Vertebrate fauna and habitat assessment in Kakadu National Park fire plots 
  • Vertebrate fauna assessment in post-mining rehabilitation sites, Rio Tinto Alcan Gove, NT 
  • Vertebrate fauna, flora and habitat assessment in the Howard Springs Nature Park and Hunting Area, Charles Darwin National Park and Holmes Jungle Nature Park, NT 
  • Targeted surveys for the brush-tailed rabbit-rat (Conilurus penicillatus), Berry Springs, NT 
  • Vertebrate fauna assessment for the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project, Rockhampton, Qld, for the Lower Fitzroy Water Joint Venture 
  • Terrestrial ecological assessment for the Balaclava Island Coal Export Terminal, Xstrata, Qld 
  • Yellow Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) eradication project as part of the ‘National Threat Abatement Plan for Invasive Tramp Ants’.

2009-2010, Goulburn Mulwaree Council, NSW – Highland Source Project Biodiversity Impact Assessment

Mihkel undertook a combination of literature reviews and habitat assessments, including targeted field surveys along the pipeline route. A range of diurnal and nocturnal survey techniques were employed. The results of the field surveys assisted in assessing the potential impacts of the Project on threatened biota.


2002-2005, numerous fauna surveys in southern NSW and north-east Victoria

  • Targeted small ground dwelling mammal surveys of Benambra and Woomargama National Park and public land surrounding Albury (in conjunction with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Albury City Council)
  • Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) surveys at various sites in the Hume Shire, NSW
  • Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa) surveys, Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, Victoria
  • Avifauna surveys, Mungabareena Reserve, Albury.


Environment / Mining Management Plans (2015 to 2018)

  • Mining Management Plan and Operational Performance Report annual updates, Kirkland Lake Gold, NT
  • Mining Management Plans (x3), Ceccon Transport Pty Ltd, NT
  • Rehabilitation Management Plans (x3), Ceccon Transport Pty Ltd, NT
  • Weed Management Plans (x3), Ceccon Transport Pty Ltd, NT.


Approvals Documentation (2017-2018)

  • Notice of Intent, Darwin Luxury Hotel Skybridge, Landbridge
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Comparative Analysis, Darwin Luxury Hotel, Landbridge
  • Offset Strategy, Mt Todd Gold Project, Vista Gold Australia Pty Ltd, NT
  • Assessment of whether a Referral is required under the EPBC Act, Landbridge Industry and Logistics Park, East Arm, NT.


Land / State Forest Management (2002 to 2005)

  • Large-scale pest flora control programs targeting Blackberry (Rubus fruticosis), Cape and English Broome (Cytisus sp.) and Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) in the Yackandandah, Kiewa, Corryong, Stanley and Whitfield sub-catchment areas
  • Two large-scale Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) control programs in the Tallangatta Valley and Stanley sub-catchments, in conjunction with Landcare, the North-east Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, and the Department of Primary Industries.