The process for conceptualising and evaluating adaptation options was adapted from Smit et al. (2000) by Clifton and Pelikan (2014). The process draws on data outputs from the Tool as well as the regional NRM planning framework review and considers five questions:
1. Adaptation to what?
While climate change poses a significant risk for many of the natural systems managed by the Goulburn Broken CMA and its stakeholders, those systems’ current state and the resulting impacts largely reflect the influence of other drivers and pressures. For adaptations to be taken up and successfully implemented, they need to be incorporated into responses that address climate-related and non-climate-related influences. In some instances, an adaptation’s main influence will be to build resilience by reducing the effects of non-climate-related pressures.
This question is addressed with reference to two main sources of information:
- Tool outputs: the data set was interrogated using GIS to identify the main exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity criteria that are contributing to the vulnerability score.
- DPSIR analyses: the analyses were used to identify the broader set of drivers and pressures (climate and non-climate related) that influence on the state of natural resources to which adaptations are required to respond.
2. Who or what adapts?
The Tool data set was interrogated to determine the main values responsible for the focus area being identified. The components of the natural resource system that underpin those values should be addressed by adaptation actions. Components may include people and infrastructure, as well as natural assets such as land, water and biodiversity.
3. How are pressures and impacts currently being managed?
The Goulburn Broken CMA and its stakeholders are typically aware of the pressures faced by natural resources and systems and have well-developed responses to these pressures or the changes in state or impacts they have contributed to. Many of these also help to build resilience to climate change. The DPSIR analyses were interrogated to identify how pressures and impacts, including those potentially emerging as a result of climate change, are currently being managed.
4. How effective are these responses anticipated to be?
A high level assessment is made of the effectiveness of existing planned adaptations at managing the current suite of pressures and impacts and those which are anticipated to emerge as a result of climate change. This analysis indicated whether natural resources and systems are likely to be climate resilient without further adaptation.
5. What additional options could be considered?
The final step considered what new measures could be undertaken to develop or strengthen climate resilience of natural resources in the respective focus area. Options are considered in the following categories (after Willows and Connell, 2003) to encourage consideration of the full spectrum of climate change response opportunities. The DPSIR analyses have been considered where they specify new or additional adaptation options for climate-related drivers and pressures.
- Modify the events: Actions are undertaken to reduce the exposure of natural resources to climate events that may affect their condition. Provision of environmental flows or irrigation are examples of this type of adaptation to drought. Planned burning is an example of this type of adaptation to bushfires.
- Respond to the effects: Actions are undertaken to either protect against or reduce the sensitivity of the natural resources to climate change. These types of adaptation may include physical measures (e.g. construction of structures to provide environmental water), changes in operational or management practice (e.g. stubble retention to increase soil moisture retention and reduce drought sensitivity) and changes to planning, regulatory or institutional arrangements.
- Reduce the risk: Either the use of natural resources is changed to lessen or avoid impacts from climate change (e.g. changing from irrigation to dryland agriculture or vice versa) or the use is shifted to another location where there is less or no exposure to the relevant climate change risk.
- Build adaptive capacity: Research is undertaken to better understand and respond to risks from climate change and/or education and behavioural change programs are implemented to improve various key stakeholder groups’ understanding of climate change and encourage appropriate adaptive responses on their part. Planning, regulatory or institutional options under ‘respond to the effects’ may also contribute to the development of adaptive capacity.