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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Climate change strategies and plans

7.2 Productive Plains Social-ecological System

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Semi-autonomous adaptation focus area:

Rushworth-Whroo Forest and Warby Range

Figure 17: Semi-autonomous adaptation priority areas in the Productive Plains of the Goulburn Broken Catchment

KEY VULNERABILITY FACTORS
Exposure:
  • change in maximum and minimum temperature
  • change in spring and autumn rainfall.
Sensitivity:
  • areas of native vegetation with high bioregional conservation status
  • soil hazards
  • climate sensitive land uses

A feature of this area is the relatively low sensitivity.

Adaptive capacity:

Protective tenure arrangements result in this area having a high adaptive capacity score

 
KEY PRESSURES
Climate and weather:

Intense rainfall events, reduced rainfall, intensified and more frequent drought, increased average and extreme temperatures

Land:
  • timber harvesting
  • bushfires
  • recreation
Biodiversity:
  • invasive plants and animals
  • bushfires and changed fire regimes
  • timber harvesting
  • recreation
Water:
  • bushfire impacts on stream flows and water quality
  • changed water yields
  • tourism
  • recreation impacts on water quality
Community:

Changing values and expectations for land use from public land

Please note: These maps are not intended to incorporate all decision-making elements but represent an initial prioritisation for climate change adaptation based on spatially-enabled criteria for vulnerability and value. Vulnerability is used to highlight locations and issues to focus further analysis, including risk assessment and management. These maps should be considered in conjunction with the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Natural Resource Management in the Goulburn Broken Catchment, Victoria, 2016 in its entirety.

Planned adaptation focus areas:

Goulburn & Broken rivers & dryland plains (GBRDP) and Swanpool & Tatong valleys & hills (STVH) (part)

Figure 18: Planned adaptation priority areas in the Productive Plains of the Goulburn Broken Catchment

KEY VULNERABILITY FACTORS
Exposure:
  • shallow water tables
  • flooding
  • change in maximum and minimum temperature
  • change in spring and autumn rainfall
Sensitivity:
  • remnant native vegetation fragmented and in relatively poor condition
  • disturbed riparian zone
  • disturbed wetlands (STVH)
  • concentration of remnant native vegetation with high bioregional conservation status
  • soil hazards
  • climate sensitive land use
Adaptive capacity:
  • limited access to irrigation
  • limited history of natural resource management works
  • land tenure not protective of natural resources
 
KEY PRESSURES
Climate and weather:

Intense rainfall events, reduced rainfall, intensified and more frequent drought, increased average and extreme temperatures, catastrophic bushfires (Swanpool & Tatong valleys & hills).

Land:

Shallow water tables, invasive plants and animals, land value is high relative to value of production, intensification of settlement (urban and peri-urban), livestock grazing, cultivation, soil health decline (acidification, erosion, carbon depletion, loss of groundcover).

Biodiversity:

Invasive plants and animals, historical vegetation clearing, incremental on-going tree loss (tree decline, land and infrastructure development, firewood collection).

Water:

Flow modification, water quality decline (erosion, septic tanks, stock), loss of access to shallow groundwater by dependent ecosystems, downstream urban flooding.

Community:

Population growth, land ownership turnover, limited skills, time and/or finance for land management, absentee ownership, off-property employment.

The key vulnerability factors have been drawn from an interrogation of the spatial assessment data (see section 3.3). The key
pressures have been identified from the DPSIR analyses (see section 3.1 and 4).

Semi-autonomous adaptation focus area:

Rushworth-Whroo Forest and Warby Range

WHO OR WHAT ADAPTS?
Biodiversity: native vegetation and native fauna
Land uses: nature conservation, forestry production, recreation, tourism
Water: water inflows to reservoirs, waterways, aquatic environments and drought refugia
People: recreation and tourism providers
Infrastructure: buildings and other infrastructure exposed to bushfires
  HOW ARE PRESSURES AND IMPACTS CURRENTLY BEING MANAGED? HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THESE RESPONSES ANTICIPATED TO BE?
State Government regulation and land management
  • Timber production: Code of Practice for Timber Production, Forest Management Plans, forest management zoning, Forest Audit Program, road construction and maintenance, invasive species management
  • Bushfires: Code of Practice for Bushfire Management, Fire Operations Planning, planned burning programs, fuel hazard and post-fire monitoring, strategic fire break maintenance, fire detection and suppression
  • Conservation reserves: Park management plans; Park maintenance, feral and invasive species management
  • Water resource management: water resource planning that accounts for impacts of projected climate change; multiple large storages, provision of environmental flows, bushfire detection and suppression
  • Firewood collection: local and State government regulations
  • Timber production: largely effective in mitigating offsite impacts of harvesting operations, except for flow reductions from wet sclerophyll forests and those resulting from climate change
  • Bushfires: likely moderately effective in addressing human safety risks, but incidence and impact of fires likely to be exacerbated with climate change, even with existing responses
  • Conservation reserves: likely moderately effective in containing existing pressures, less effective in containing pressures resulting from change in rainfall and temperature regimes
  • Water resource planning: likely effective in anticipating effects of climate change on resource availability, but limited effectiveness in containing impacts
  • Firewood collection: dependent on level of enforcement
Emergency management arrangements: preparation, management and recovery phases Bushfire: planned burning, fire response arrangements, emergency warnings, bushfire recovery, Code of Practice for Bushfire Management. Bushfire: fire warnings and response effective in reducing threats to human safety (community and responders) under most conditions. Disaster recovery arrangements likely effective in reducing pressures. Effectiveness of responses tested under catastrophic fire
danger conditions, which will increase in frequency with climate change. Effectiveness of planned burning is yet to be determined.

Planned adaptation focus areas:

Goulburn & Broken rivers & dryland plains (GBRDP) and Swanpool & Tatong valleys & hills (STVH) (part)

WHO OR WHAT ADAPTS?
Biodiversity: terrestrial and riparian remnant vegetation and fauna, wetlands
Land uses: agriculture, lifestyle/amenity uses, urban land use
Water: waterways, riverine wetlands, aquatic environments, drought refugia
People: farming and lifestyle landholders, town residents
Infrastructure: buildings and other infrastructure exposed to flooding (in downstream urban areas) and bushfires (STVH)
  HOW ARE PRESSURES AND IMPACTS CURRENTLY BEING MANAGED? HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THESE RESPONSES ANTICIPATED TO BE?
NRM and other
land management
programs
(including
agricultural
industry
programs)
  • community education and extension
  • whole farm planning
  • invasive species management
  • native vegetation protection and restoration
  • riparian and wetland fencing and revegetation
  • protective tenure arrangements: conservation covenants, land management agreements etc.
  • soil, land, vegetation, riparian, wetland “best management practices”
  • Groundwater management plan
  • natural resource condition monitoring
  • likely moderate to high effectiveness for managing pressures relating to remnant vegetation, groundcover, waterways and wetlands – where adopted by landholders. Low level of uptake likely (especially periurban areas of STVH) given population density, growth and transience – this will diminish the potential impacts of responses
  • key constraints: resources (time, finance, skills,
    experience) for management
Land use planning
and regulation
  • urban and peri-urban zoning, boundaries and property sizes
  • use of septic tanks
  • development and building controls in flood zones and bushfire prone areas (STVH)
  • environmental significance, erosion and other land management overlays
  • vegetation clearing controls
  • multi-organisation regional coordination groups for planning strategy and implementation
  • Land use planning and development controls (mostly STVH):
    - can establish limits on population growth and density, but as these have not yet been reached, pressures on natural resource assets and values likely to increase
    - likely to contain impacts resulting from floods and bushfire, (possibly) except under extreme conditions
  • Vegetation protection: likely effective in retaining larger vegetation patches on private land, but not effective in containing incremental losses of small patches and paddock trees;
Emergency
management
arrangements:
preparation,
management and
recovery phases
  • Bushfire (STVH): planned burning, fire response arrangements, emergency warnings, bushfire recovery, Code of Practice for Bushfire Management
  • Flooding: emergency warnings, building, transport and other infrastructure placement and design, urban and rural drainage, flood mitigation infrastructure
  • Bushfire (STVH): effective in limiting threats to human safety (community and responders) under most conditions; disaster recovery arrangements likely effective in reducing pressures; effectiveness of responses tested under catastrophic fire danger conditions
  • Flooding: likely effective in managing impacts except for established infrastructure developed in floodways and where climate change will significantly change flood depth, extent and flow velocity
Insurance flood and/or fire damages likely to offset damage costs for affected properties. Cost
and/or availability of cover may be tightened with climate
change if frequency and scale of impacts increase materially.
What additional actions can be considered?

Options are considered in several categories to encourage consideration of the full spectrum of climate change response opportunities (Willows and Connell 2003). The development of
management options in this Plan represents only the first step in a process of detailed adaptive management planning (see beginning of section 7).

Rushworth-Whroo Forest and Warby Range focus areas have lower vulnerability than the Goulburn & Broken rivers & dryland plains and Swanpool & Tatong valleys & hills focus areas. No additional planned actions are proposed in response to climate change, rather, largely managed through current responses (outlined above) and the system allowed to react and
respond to climate change in a largely undirected manner. At some future stage, planned interventions may be required if or as resilience thresholds are approached. In the
meantime, adaptive capacity building options, such as research and monitoring, may assist in identifying triggers and mechanisms for planned interventions. A limited suite of other adaptation management actions can be considered, as described here.

Semi-autonomous adaptation focus area:
Rushworth-Whroo Forest and Warby Range
Modify the events
  • Limited additional adaptation options
Respond to the effects
  • Limited additional adaptation options
Reduce the risk
  • Migrate settlements from interfaces with highest risk bushfire environment.
Build adaptive capacity
  • Research into resilience of restricted range species whose habitats are at high risk from climate change
  • Research into long-term management of key fire sensitive environments under climate change
  • Research into water resource impacts of climate change and potential implications for irrigation, environmental watering and urban supplies
  • Monitoring of natural resource state to detect trends indicative of climate change impacts and to provide potential triggers for changed management
Semi-autonomous adaptation focus area:
Goulburn & Broken rivers & dryland plains (GBRDP) and Swanpool & Tatong valleys & hills (STVH) (part)
Modify the events
  • Infrastructure construction to protect flood prone urban environments
  • Perennial vegetation reinstatement in hill country to reduce flash run-off and flood, erosion and water quality impacts of extreme rainfall events
  • Develop and implement streamflow management plans (in catchments without them) to reduce impacts of farm dams and other forms of water interception on riparian, wetland and aquatic ecosystems
  • Develop and implement groundwater management plans (in areas without them) to reduce impacts of groundwater use on groundwater-dependent ecosystems and drought refugia
  • Address bushfire hazard in public land areas fringing the socialecological system boundary
Respond to the effects
  • Strategic revegetation and native vegetation protection programs to identify and build the size and connectivity of key native vegetation remnants, for example, along roads and waterways to nearby public land forest areas, and strengthen water quality protection
  • Encourage revegetation and/or perennial grass establishment on hills to maintain groundcover and protect against erosion, salinity and flash flooding
  • Strengthen native vegetation retention controls and planning to protect resilience features of high value remnant native vegetation patches and drought refugia
Reduce the risk
  • Manage fire ignition risk, e.g. electricity distribution lines, in areas with high risk from catastrophic bushfires (STVH)
  • Migrate residential and other flood sensitive land uses away from
    flood-exposed areas
Build adaptive capacity
  • Peri-urban and lifestyle landholder natural resource management programs to encourage such landholders to engage in measures to protect soil health and remnant vegetation and to develop the
    skills and capacity for implementation; and to strengthen bushfire preparation and response capabilities.
  • Research into the need and opportunity to introduce new species or provenances to maintain ecosystem function under climate change.