North central Victoria – climate change and land-use: potentials for third century in a timeless land Conference Paper uri icon

abstract

  • For the 21st century, scenarios of future climate under global warming suggest that Bassian-Eyrean bioclimatic region of northern Victoria, centred on the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA), will become markedly warmer and drier. Significant climate change is a real possibility midcentury and some basic bio-physical attributes underpinning the current ecology, land-use and management will be altered. Societal adaptation to climate change will include enhancing landscape resilience and changes to the mix of inter-related ecosystem services. The increasing understanding of these inter-relationships will allow for the creation of a more holistic quantification and production of landscape services. In combination, these challenge the past land-use paradigm on the driest, inhabited continent. Following the mid-19th century gold rushes, land-use in the NCCMA represented the epitome of the colonial land-use paradigm through clearing for agriculture and pastoralism. Victoria has long had the highest percentage private land of any Australian state. The NCCMA catchment is the most denuded of native vegetation, with the smallest percentage of public land and conservation reserves, and is now the centre of a continental concentration of bioregions under high environmental stress. The original primacy of agriculture was fulfilled, sometimes under adverse circumstances, but resultant landscape legacies persist within the relative economic decline of Australian agriculture. The amelioration of these within a future land stewardship that is water-stressed, carbon constrained and prone to extreme weather events is a major challenge. Exploring landscape adaptation, the simple questions arise: From what? To what? This contribution examines broad land-use in the NCCMA in the long term context of climate change and adaptation, land-use and the perceived valuation of ecosystem services from the landscape. The increasing realisation of the interconnectedness of these phenomena and the necessity for ecologically sustainable agriculture provide enhanced drivers for the evolution of new landscape meanings in the context of an inter-generational equity and climate change response.

publication date

  • 2010