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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Climate change strategies and plans

4. Influence of Climate Change on the Condition of the Catchment’s Natural Resources

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Information from the regional NRM planning framework review (see section 3.1) and stakeholder engagement has been used to describe the influence of climate change on each of the three regional natural resource classes identified in the Goulburn Broken RCS. Tables 1, 2 and 3 (below) summarise information from the DPSIR analyses (Clifton and Pelikan 2014) (see section 3.1), outlining the drivers and pressures with a high influence on natural resource condition and the trend that influence will experience under climate change based on mid-century projections under a relatively high emissions pathway. Some pressures have a high level of influence only under climate change.

The full DPSIR analyses (Clifton and Heard 2013) identify links between Drivers and Pressures, States and Pressures and Impacts and States. As the Drivers and Pressures listed in table 2 all have a high level of influence on the condition of natural resources, all the drivers have an influence on all of the pressures to some degree which is why direct links have not been articulated here.

The DPSIR analyses are based on assumptions informed by expert consultants and regional NRM planners. These assumptions and the assessment criteria they inform will be updated as new information becomes available as per the Goulburn Broken CMA’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy (under review).

Table 1: Summary of drivers and pressures with a high influence on the condition of land resources in the Goulburn Broken Catchment and the trend of influence under climate change.

Land: soil and land that is used for purposes other than nature conservation, including dryland and irrigation farming, timber production and urban and lifestyle uses
STRONGEST DRIVERS OF CONDITION TREND OF INFLUENCE ON CONDITION UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE DESCRIPTION OF ASSUMPTIONS
Water availability and policy reform Increasing Changing land use values interact with land use and management practice change as a driver. While this is not always the case, it often results in increased value on biodiversity compared with production and has contributed to private and public land conservation of biodiversity assets. As climate change adds to pressure on biodiversity condition, this may increase trade-offs between biodiversity and production.
Climate variability and change Increasing Climate has a strong and pervasive influence on land condition via precipitation and temperature patterns and their influence on land health and primary production. Direction of influence depends on climate phases, but overall assumed to be neither detrimental nor beneficial under historical conditions. Climate change is likely to have an overall detrimental influence on land condition.
Demographic change No change to current level of influence Demographic change is reflected in changes in age and density of population, as well as education, employment status and entrance of lifestyle landholders. Demographic change is not clearly influencing land condition in a particular direction, as expectations of land management/focus on stewardship and environmental values vary widely. Not clear how climate change would directly modify influence on land condition.
Land use and management change Increasing Much of the influence is a legacy, reflecting historical change in land use to agriculture and development of water resources for irrigation. Land use and management continues to change in the Catchment, with intensification (following irrigation system modernisation), neglect or improved management. Overall, land use and management change is considered to currently have neutral influence, reflecting the balance of positive changes (e.g. improved management of soil health issues in farming areas) and negative changes (e.g. neglect of land in some lifestyle areas). Climate change may lead to a more negative influence on land condition, reflecting impact of temperature and increased drought.
STRONGEST PRESSURES ON CONDITION TREND OF INFLUENCE ON CONDITION UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE DESCRIPTION OF ASSUMPTIONS
Change in fire regimes and management Increasing Key pressure on land state in public land areas. Severe fire weather is projected to increase with climate change, potentially placing further pressure on land condition.
Cultivation/
cropping/grazing
Increasing Legacy and ongoing effect of cropping and grazing on various measures of soil and land health. Improved practice in recent years is likely to reduce negative influence on condition rather than improve it (overall). Intensification of drought and extreme rainfall with climate change is likely to exacerbate influence on land condition.
Extreme weather & climate events (drought, fire, flood) Increasing Extreme weather, especially fire, flood and drought, continue to adversely affect land assets. Climate change is likely to increase adverse effects of fire and drought and may reduce flooding incidence.
Invasive plants and animals and disease Increasing Invasive species reduce agricultural productivity and, in some cases, expose soils to erosion (e.g. cape weed on ridges). Climate change may enable the introduction of new species and with more severe, extreme rainfall events,
may exacerbate effects on land condition.
Irrigation and dryland salinity, high water tables Decreasing Legacy and ongoing effect of irrigation development and practice and dryland clearing, although the effects diminished in recent years compared to the 1980s and 1990s. With reduced rainfall under climate change, influence on
land condition is likely to diminish further.
Irrigation - regulation, drainage, diversion and storages Decreasing Much of the influence on land condition is a historical legacy of elevated water tables and irrigation salinity. Effects of these on land condition have diminished in recent years and are anticipated to continue to do so with
climate change.
Change in rainfall regime Influence high only under climate change scenario Land asset condition (e.g. erosion, agricultural production, salinity, soil carbon) tightly linked to rainfall. Changes will be pervasive across the Catchment and generally detrimental, although climate change is anticipated to further abate salinity issues.

Table 2: Summary of drivers and pressures with a high influence on the condition of water resources in the Goulburn Broken Catchment and the trend of influence under climate change.

Water: Waterways, floodplains, wetlands and groundwater aquifers and water used for consumptive and environmental uses
STRONGEST DRIVERS OF CONDITION TREND OF INFLUENCE ON CONDITION UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE DESCRIPTION OF ASSUMPTIONS
Water availability and policy reform Increasing Currently a positive influence on the condition of water assets as policy reform and water availability has recently provided for improved balance between environmental and consumptive water uses. With reduced rainfall under climate change, competition between environmental and consumptive water uses is likely to increase and water availability for environmental flows likely to reduce, leading to detrimental influence on the condition of water assets.
Climate variability and change Increasing Climate has a strong and pervasive influence on the condition of water assets via precipitation patterns and their influence on stream flows and water-dependent ecosystem processes. Climate influence is also expressed in terms of water temperature. Direction of influence depends on climate phases, but overall assumed to be neither detrimental nor beneficial under historical conditions. Climate change is likely to have an overall detrimental influence on the condition of water assets.
Land use and management change No change to current level of influence Much of the influence is a legacy, reflecting historical change in land use to agriculture and development of water resources for irrigation. Land use and management continues to change in many areas, with intensification (following irrigation system modernisation), neglect or improved management. Proliferation of farm dams affects water flows in lifestyle land use zones. Overall, considered to currently have a neutral influence, reflecting the balance of positive changes (e.g. improved management of sources of nutrient and sediment) and negative changes (e.g. farm dam proliferation). Climate change unlikely to directly modify influence on condition.
STRONGEST PRESSURES ON CONDITION TREND OF INFLUENCE ON CONDITION UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE DESCRIPTION OF ASSUMPTIONS
Change in fire regimes and management Increasing Key pressure on long-term water flows and shorter term water quality from wet eucalypt forests in key catchment areas (trend for excessive
frequency in recent years). Severe fire weather projected to increase with climate change, potentially placing further pressure on water resources.
Extreme weather & climate events (drought, fire, flood) Increasing Extreme weather, especially fire and drought, continues to adversely affect water assets. Flooding has a generally positive influence on the condition of riparian, wetland and aquatic ecosystems. Climate change projected to increase adverse effects of fire and drought and may reduce flooding incidence.
Infrastructure development Increasing Legacy and on-going impact of irrigation and water infrastructure, as well as flood levees on flows, flooding into floodplain forests and movement of aquatic fauna. With less flow under climate change, influence on condition is likely to worsen.
Invasive plants and animals Increasing Invasive species compete with, displace, damage or prey on native flora and fauna, reducing populations and affecting recruitment in water-dependent ecosystems. Climate change may enable introduction of new pests.
Irrigation - regulation, drainage, diversion and storages Increasing Much of the influence on condition is a historical legacy of changes in flow and water regimes. While NRM programs are seeking to reduce the negative influence, this pressure still contributes to a negative trend in condition. Climate change will reduce water resource availability and likely increase detrimental impacts on condition.
Change in rainfall and run-off regime Influence high only under climate change scenario Water asset condition is tightly linked to rainfall, in terms of flows and water quality. Changes will be pervasive across the Catchment and water asset types and generally detrimental, because drier climate overall, increased drought incidence and intensity and increase in intensity of extreme rainfall events.
Increased temperature Influence high only under climate change scenario Aquatic ecosystems and incidence of blue green algal blooms is influenced by water temperature. Changes will be pervasive across the Catchment for aquatic ecosystems and water quality and will generally be detrimental.

Table 3: Summary of drivers and pressures with a high influence on the condition of biodiversity resources in the Goulburn Broken Catchment and the trend of influence under climate change.

Biodiversity: native vegetation communities, wetlands and waterways and associated plants, fungi, animals, microbes and genetic diversity they contain
STRONGEST DRIVERS OF CONDITION TREND OF INFLUENCE ON CONDITION UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE DESCRIPTION OF ASSUMPTIONS
Changing land use values No change to current level of influence Changing land use values interact with land use and management practice change as a driver. While this is not always the case, it has often resulted in increased value on biodiversity compared with production and has contributed to private and public land conservation of biodiversity assets. As climate change adds to pressure on biodiversity condition, this may drive stronger protections (or other interventions) for key biodiversity assets.
Water availability and policy reform Increasing Currently a positive influence on the condition of biodiversity as has recently provided improved balance of environmental and consumptive water uses. With reduced rainfall under climate change, competition between environmental and consumptive water uses is likely to increase and water availability for environmental flows likely to reduce, leading to a detrimental
influence on biodiversity condition.
Climate variability and change Increasing Climate has a strong and pervasive influence on biodiversity condition via climate-dependent ecosystem processes. Direction of influence depends on climate phases, but overall is assumed to be neither detrimental nor beneficial. Climate change is likely to have an overall detrimental influence on biodiversity condition.
Land use and management change No change to current level of influence Much of the influence is a legacy, reflecting historical changes in land use to agriculture and development of water resources. Land use and management continues to change with intensification, neglect or improved management. Overall, considered to have negative influence on condition as biodiversity assets continue to decline. Climate change unlikely to directly modify influence on biodiversity condition.
STRONGEST PRESSURES ON CONDITION TREND OF INFLUENCE ON CONDITION UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE DESCRIPTION OF ASSUMPTIONS
Change in fire regimes and management Increasing Key pressure on terrestrial ecosystems in forest and alpine areas (trend for excessive frequency) and rural land (trend for insufficient fire). Severe fire weather to increase with climate change, placing (especially) biodiversity in
fire-sensitive systems in public land areas at risk.
Cultivation/
cropping/grazing
No change to current level of influence Much of the influence on condition is from historical activity, although, extension of cultivation to new areas (with changing technology and economics) and ongoing grazing is affecting native vegetation remnants in rural areas. No direct modification of influence on condition with climate change.
Extreme weather and climate events Increasing Extreme weather, especially fire and drought, adversely affects biodiversity in remnant native vegetation in rural areas and forests on public land. Flooding generally has a positive influence on condition of riparian, wetland and aquatic ecosystems. Climate change to increase adverse effects of fire and drought and may reduce flooding incidence.
Invasive plants and animals Increasing Invasive species compete with, displace, damage or prey on native flora and fauna, reducing population and affecting recruitment. Climate change may enable the introduction of new invasive species.
Irrigation – regulation, drainage, diversion and storages Increasing Much of the influence on condition is a historical legacy of changes in flow and water regimes. While NRM programs are seeking to reduce negative influence, this pressure still contributes to a negative trend in biodiversity condition. Climate change will reduce water resource availability and likely increase detrimental impact on biodiversity condition.
Change in rainfall regime Influence high only under climate change scenario Ecosystem processes tightly linked to rainfall. Changes will be pervasive across the Catchment in all ecosystem types and generally detrimental because drier climate overall and increased drought incidence and intensity under climate change.
Increased temperature Influence high only under climate change scenario Ecosystem processes are linked to temperature and fire (influenced by temperature). Changes will be pervasive across the Catchment for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and generally detrimental.