An assessment of the vulnerability of the Goulburn Broken Catchment’s natural resources to climate change using spatially-enabled criteria was undertaken with adaptation and mitigation priorities and management options identified using the results of this assessment. Natural resources are defined as per the Goulburn Broken RCS in the asset categories of land, water and biodiversity (GB CMA 2013).
A vulnerability assessment was chosen as it is well suited to spatial analyses. Risk and vulnerability are similar, although not identical concepts. Both are widely used in the analysis of climate change issues.
Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change. It has three main dimensions: exposure to changes in climate; sensitivity to such changes; and the capacity of a system to adapt to them.
Risk is the effect of uncertainty on objectives and is assessed by considering the consequence of an event and its likelihood.
Although there are important differences, exposure and sensitivity broadly correspond with the likelihood and consequence components of a risk assessment. Vulnerability is used to highlight locations and issues to focus further analysis, including risk assessment and management. Multiple criteria and spatial data sets can be used to characterise each of the three main components of a vulnerability assessment to identify areas which may experience greater impact from climate change.
The vulnerability and adaptation priority assessment was undertaken in the following five stages:
- Identification of assessment criteria
- Development of a spatial assessment tool
- Assessment of climate change vulnerability
- Identification of focus areas for adaptation
- Development of adaptation management options.