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 18 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.
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:
Individual Project Assessments under Parts 7 to 9 of the EPBC Act
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:
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:
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.
2005-2009, numerous fauna surveys across northern Australia
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
Environment / Mining Management Plans (2015 to 2018)
Approvals Documentation (2017-2018)
Land / State Forest Management (2002 to 2005)