Why we need to consider the potential impacts of climate change
The Plan specifically considers the impact of climate change on the region and identifies key strategies for improved natural resource management in the face of a changing climate.
The CSIRO have released the latest projections of climate change in Australia. These are available online (www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au). Click here for a direct link to information on our region.
Key messages for our region are that:
- average temperatures will continue to increase in all seasons
- there will be more hot days, warm spells and fewer frosts
- average winter and spring rainfall is projected to decrease. Changes in summer and autumn rainfall are possible but unclear at this stage
- the intensity of extreme daily rainfall events will increase
- we will experience harsher fire-weather climate
- natural variability in the climate system is likely to either mask or enhance longer-term trends in human induced changes to rainfall over the next 20 years. (CSIRO 2015).
These latest results are consistent with the results of previous modelling used to inform the ClimateQ: toward a greener Queensland report (DERM 2009), This report provided regional scale information for the Maranoa and District and Eastern Downs.
In the Maranoa-Balonne, the expectation is for:
- an increase of up to 5oC by 2070,
- an increase in the number of days above 35oC, for example, St George may have more than twice the number of days above 35oC from 53 per year to 116 per year while
- rainfall projections are less certain, ranging from an increase of 17% to a decrease of 34% by 2070 (with a decrease in winter rainfall the most likely outcome under all scenarios), and
- evaporation could increase by 6-15%.
In the Border Rivers, the expectation is for:
- an increase of up to 4.5oC by 2070,
- an increase in the number of days above 35oC, for example, the area may have more than three times the number of days above 35oC from 31 per year to 93 per year while
- rainfall is projected to either rise by 16% or decrease by 32% by 2070 (with a decrease the most likely outcome under all scenarios) and
- evaporation could increase by 7-15%.
Learning from the past to prepare for the future
One way to prepare for the changes projected for our region is to learn from what we have done in the past under similar conditions. This approach is known as using temporal analogues which use historical temperature and rainfall figures to help inform decision making and future planning. Please refer to the Terranova website for a full range of tools and information created and collated to help in this process (National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program, 2014).
The NRM Plan in context
This region has had a detailed NRM Plan since 1998 (which also incorporated the South West NRM catchments of Warrego, Paroo and Bulloo at that time) and this current iteration represents changes in knowledge, changes in technology, changes in community expectations and changes in climatic realities. The NRM Plan is a way of capturing community expectations, community hopes and community actions toward improving the resilience of the Maranoa-Balonne and Border Rivers catchments.
The NRM Plan sits between ‘bottom-up’ community planning and ‘top-down’ institutional planning, and has elements of both integrated into it. It recognises the necessity and importance of other plans and strategies and is not intended to either replicate or replace Corporate or Community Planning at a Regional Council level. Each level of planning is intended to reinforce and enhance the capacity and likely success of the other levels.
The NRM Plan deals with regionally significant natural resource assets, issues and processes, while supporting the planning processes of catchment and sub-catchment groups, which deal with problems at a more localised level. It works in the other direction, too, as part of a larger ecosystem, in recognition that human activities in one area have an impact on life in other areas.
Because of need to deal with such significant issues and processes as part of the entirety of activity within the region, this is a living Plan, adapting as needed, when needed.
The Queensland Murray-Darling Committee Inc
As the region’s recognised natural resource management organisation, the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee Inc (QMDC) has an important role to play in assisting the community to achieve the goals in this Plan. QMDC is a community-based, not-for-profit organisation that delivers natural resource management (NRM) and environmental services across the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin, which incorporates the Plan area.
QMDC advocates for the sustainable use of the region’s natural resources, works to protect vital habitat for vulnerable and endangered flora and fauna and to educate the community about the importance of sustainability both in the paddock and around the home.
QMDC’s activities are guided by the community-driven Regional Natural Resource Management Plan, including programs that:
- improve the health of the region’s soil and water,
- improve the health of the rivers, wetland and floodplains,
- protect native plants and animals,
- increase community capacity,
- improve energy efficiency and waste management,
- protect cultural heritage, and
- reduce the threat of weeds and pest animals.
More information about QMDC and its membership and operation can be found at www.qmdc.org.au. In addition, QMDC has formed the Regional Aboriginal Advisory Group, which consists of two representatives (one male and one female) from each of the eight Traditional Owner groups within the region. The role of this group is to provide QMDC with professional and relevant advice in all matters pertaining to Aboriginal involvement and to facilitate the development of good cross cultural awareness between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people (government and non-government) involved in natural resource management in the region.
In order to help achieve the goals of the Regional NRM Plan, QMDC works with a range of community and natural resource management groups to deliver capacity building and on-ground works. These include, but are not limited to, Landcare and bushcare groups, catchment management associations, Land for Wildlife members, primary production associations, the education sector, the health sector, private business sector, all tiers of government and individuals working and living in the Basin.
Stream 2 Climate Planning Tools
As an integral element to the review of the NRM Plan, the Federal Government funded a research cluster to develop tools and materials to compliment the recommendations of the Plan, and assist members of the community to plan for climate change. This is referred to as Stream 2.
The Border Rivers and Maranoa-Balonne regions were represented in research conducted by the Central Slopes Cluster of the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Grants Program. Relevant project references are included throughout the Plan, however a collection of the projects can be found online at https://terranova.org.au. The direct link to the Central Slopes Cluster (the one that covers this region) is: https://terranova.org.au/repository/central-slopes-nrm-collection.
QMDC wishes to particularly acknowledge the work of the University of Southern Queensland who co-ordinated much of this work, and have been integral in the process of sharing the tools with the wider community.