The requirements for assessing and maintaining ecological assets such as waterways and wetlands are vastly different to that of traditional assets.

Ecological assets are complex and can be unpredictable in their performance and lifecycle management needs. They require tailored, site-specific adaptive maintenance to keep them in good and serviceable condition and can be severely affected by the impacts of climate change, particularly when their condition declines and they become less resilient.

Conventional asset management was largely developed for traditional assets whose performance and lifecycle management needs are predictable, well understood, and supported by industry guidelines and standards.

Given the complexity of ecological assets and the many ‘levels of service’ they provide to the community, they are incompatible for integration with existing asset management systems. This has proven to be a conundrum for local authorities and councils whose role it is to maintain them.

It has also resulted in a lack of financial planning and thus maintenance is often reactive rather than proactive.

Strategic asset management providing a solution

Recently, Brightly, in partnership with E2Designlab, developed a strategic asset management framework to address the unique needs of ecological assets for the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA).

SOPA is responsible for managing the ecological assets around Sydney Olympic Park, including waterways, constructed wetlands and bioretention systems which are critical for stormwater conveyance, harvesting, and treatment.

In addition, SOPA is also responsible for maintaining habitat ponds for the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog and vast mangrove and saltmarsh wetlands. Given the complexity of the assets, SOPA found existing programs were not sufficient in delivering the required funding and management tools for the assets.

Under constrained resource capacity, a number of SOPA’s ecological assets were degraded. SOPA needed a bespoke program to manage the overall asset portfolio to sustainably deliver the required levels of service, control risks, and drive continual improvement now and into the future.

Brightly and E2Designlab worked with SOPA to guide their long-term management and restoration. Sally Boer, Director at E2Designlab said, “We brought together a multidisciplinary team with skills in environmental engineering, ecology, and strategic asset management to develop these resources. “Once we had the right skills on board for the project, we needed to understand how to create a solution that would meet SOPA’s brief.”

Creating a framework, plan and concept designs

The team distilled the project into these key stages:

  • Develop a strategic asset management framework
  • The team reviewed relevant internal and external materials to understand SOPA’s ecological assets, environmental obligations, and current asset management processes, systems, and requirements.
  • Undertake an asset audit
  • The team undertook an audit of 158 ecological assets to understand their current condition, risks, levels of service and maintenance and rectification requirements.
  • Develop an asset management plan
  • Using the information uncovered to deliver the framework the team was able to develop an asset management plan capable of sustainably delivering required levels of service, managing risks, and driving continual improvement in the asset portfolio over the next 20 years.
  • Develop concept designs

Once the plan was approved, the team was able to prepare concept designs and costings for different options to restore degraded assets to a good and serviceable condition.

David Horseman, Strategic Asset Management Services Manager at Brightly, said, “Working with E2Designlab we were able to collaboratively address the needs of SOPA in managing this complex but vital ecological asset portfolio through strategic asset management.”

For more information on the project or to discuss how to effectively manage your ecological assets, please visit or

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