The map below tells a pretty sobering story: most of northern and western Victoria is in serious rainfall deficit over the last three years. It’s taken from the Catchment Management Authority’s Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. This document was the subject of community consultations in our region through August.
We’ve already noted the climate projections for our region, which forecast lower mean annual rainfall, with declines especially in autumn and winter. The question is, how should we ready ourselves for this decline?
The practical responses suggested in the CMA strategy are as follows:
‘– Implement a property planning and education program (with a sustainability focus) for landowners
‘– Enable an ecological thinning program on both public and private land
‘– Implement a scientifically rigorous, biodiversity monitoring program using woodland birds as a key indicator of ecosystem health
‘– Implement an on-ground restoration program that achieves connectivity and increases the extent of native vegetation
‘– Include some drier climate species and wider genetic material of existing species in revegetation programs
‘– Put stricter controls on development in bushland areas or adjacent to public land
‘– Support the risk based approach to prescribed burns to protect the community and natural assets
‘– Manage grazing pressure along rivers to protect the riparian zone
‘– Support the development of mechanisms in local government planning schemes and the Victorian Planning Provisions that identify and enable strategic biolinks
‘– Implement large-scale carbon sequestration across the landscape.’
Most of these are not new ideas. Some have already been vigorously debated and effectively rejected by Government– the control of grazing along river frontages being one that comes to mind; and the State is still dithering about whether to adopt a risk based approach to prescribed burns. It remains to be seen how many of these ideas will be put into practice.