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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Climate change strategies and plans

7.1 Agricultural Floodplains Social-ecological System

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Semi-autonomous adaptation focus area:

Barmah Forest

Figure 15: Semi-autonomous adaptation priority areas in the Agricultural Floodplains of the Goulburn Broken Catchment

  • change in maximum and minimum temperature
  • change in spring and autumn rainfall.
  • 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

Climate and weather:
  • intense rainfall events
  • reduced rainfall
  • intensified and more frequent drought
  • increased average and extreme temperatures
  • bushfires
  • recreation
  • invasive plants and animals
  • bushfires and changed fire regimes
  • firewood collection
  • recreation
  • bushfire impacts on stream flows and water quality
  • changed water yields
  • tourism
  • recreation impacts on water quality

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:

Lower Goulburn Floodplain (LGF) and Murray Floodplain (MF)

Figure 16: Planned adaptation priority areas in the Agricultural Floodplains of the Goulburn Broken Catchment

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

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


Shallow water tables, invasive plants and animals, livestock grazing, cultivation, irrigation and land forming, soil health decline (acidification, erosion, carbon depletion, loss of groundcover), agricultural chemical use, dairy effluent disposal, peri-urban development (LGF).


Invasive plants and animals, historical vegetation clearing, incremental on-going tree loss (tree decline, land and infrastructure development, firewood collection), changed flooding regime, waterway barriers to aquatic species movement.


Flow modification, water quality decline (erosion, septic tanks, stock), loss of access to shallow groundwater by dependent ecosystems, irrigation water use, irrigation drainage, lower water allocations during extended drought.


Off-property income, time and/or finance for land management.

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:

Barmah Forest

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
State Government regulation and land 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
  • 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:

Lower Goulburn Floodplain (LGF) and Murray Floodplain (MF)

Biodiversity: terrestrial and riparian remnant vegetation and fauna, wetlands
Land uses: agriculture, urban land use (Lower Goulburn Floodplain)
Water: waterways, floodplain wetlands, aquatic environments, drought refugia
People: farming landholders, town residents
Infrastructure: buildings and other infrastructure exposed to flooding in urban areas
NRM and other
land management
  • community education and extension
  • whole farm planning, irrigation layout and drainage improvements
  • regional irrigation drainage programs (groundwater and surface water)
  • floodplain land retirement
  • invasive species management
  • native vegetation protection and restoration
  • riparian and wetland fencing and revegetation
  • groundwater management plan
  • protective tenure arrangements: conservation covenants, land management agreements etc.
  • irrigation, soil, land, vegetation, riparian, wetland "best management practices"
  • natural resource condition monitoring
  • likely moderate to high effectiveness for managing pressures relating to remnant vegetation, groundcover, waterways and wetlands – where adopted by landholders
  • key constraints: resources (time and finance) for management
Land use planning
and regulation
  • development and building controls in flood prone areas
  • environmental significance, erosion and other land management overlays
  • vegetation clearing controls
  • Dairy effluent: management controls to reduce nutrient export to streams and avoid excessive loadings to land
  • multi-organisation regional coordination groups for planning strategy and implementation
  • Land use planning and development controls: controls on development in flood prone areas likely to be at least moderately effective in reducing impacts, 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;
  • Dairy effluent: effective enforcement of dairy effluent management controls likely to contain nutrient impacts on streams
management and
recovery phases
Flooding: emergency warnings, building, transport and other infrastructure placement and design, urban and rural drainage, flood mitigation
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
Water resource
and irrigation
  • irrigation system modernisation (mostly LGF)
  • environmental watering plans for key floodplain wetlands and environmental flows for rivers
  • regional water resource planning and irrigation water supply infrastructure
  • groundwater management plan
  • water markets and water market information (mostly LGF)
  • regional irrigation drainage programs (groundwater, surface water; mostly LGF)
  • water markets reduce economic impacts of drought, except where water supplies extremely depleted;
  • regional surface water and sub-surface drainage systems (especially LGF) effective in reducing shallow water tables and salinity and reduce impacts of flooding – particularly for less extreme events;
  • environmental water provision effective for wetlands and floodplains benefitting from water allocation.
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).

Barmah Forest is a semiautonomous adaptation focus area that has lower vulnerability than the Lower Goulburn and Murray floodplains 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:
Barmah Forest
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:
Lower Goulburn Floodplain (LGF) and Murray Floodplain (MF)
Modify the events
  • Infrastructure construction to protect flood prone urban environments (MF)
  • 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
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
  • Strengthen native vegetation retention controls and planning to protect resilience features of high value remnant native vegetation patches and drought refugia
  • Modify land use planning in flood zones to reflect projected changes in flood depth and extent with climate change
Reduce the risk
  • Reinstate floodplain function
  • Retire highly flood-prone agricultural land from use
Build adaptive capacity
  • Research into the need and opportunity to introduce new species or provenances to maintain ecosystem function under climate change.

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