Scientific advice shows that our climate is changing and that, even with a continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the world is still warming. The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility projected changes to Australia's climate by 2030 including:
- an annual average warming of one degree
- increased drying in southern Australia, especially in winter; and
- increased intense rainfall events.
For the Adelaide Hills district this will mean increased bushfire potential and severity, changes to farming and agricultural crops, and increased possibility of flooding.
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PLAN
We worked with other councils in the region to develop the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island Region, known as Resilient Hills and Coasts. Its key aim is to strengthen the resilience of our communities, economies and natural environment to respond and adapt to the changing climate in the region. The Plan is a partnership project between local government, State Government, the Commonwealth’s Disaster Resilient Australia program, the Regional Development Authority and the Southern and Hills Local Government Association. Development of the Plan included a comprehensive internal and external consultation process with the community, business, government, industry and academia to develop an overarching framework and adaptation options.
Development of the Adaptation Plan involved a three step process:
- Step 1: Mapping vision, values and key decisions (completed in 2014).
- Step 2: Integrated Vulnerability Assessment (completed 2016).
- Step 3: Identifying and prioritising adaptation options (Adaptation Action Plan completed 2016).
The Adaptation Plan identified the following climate change adaptation priorities for the region:
- Adaptive management of protected areas on public lands – focusing on managing fuel loads in close proximity to towns and private land in response to increasing fire risk.
- Climate-ready guidelines for public realm and green infrastructure management –appropriate infrastructure material and tree species selection, shade coverings, inclusion of water sensitive urban design features, and opportunities for misting infrastructure.
- Diversification of agricultural activities – focussing on different varieties and types of crops and pasture, and livestock management practices, to help adapt to warmer and drier conditions and more intense rainfall in the future.
- Build more energy efficient housing – focussing on installation (and potentially development) of energy efficient building materials and fixtures in collaboration with other levels of government and the construction industry and research institutes.
- Incorporate design allowances for increases in extreme events - ensure that new and renewed infrastructure is designed to allow for increases in extreme events, such as greater fire risk and flooding induced by more intense rainfall events.
- Improved management of native vegetation on private properties – funding for managing native vegetation on private properties.
- Restricting development in hazard prone areas – such as areas at risk from bushfires and flooding.
- Increase stormwater harvesting to improve water quantity and quality management - continued investment in water sensitive urban design, stormwater retention areas and water recycling where possible.
- Community awareness and education - impacts and response options to climate change is essential to underpin broad scale adaptation.
- Monitoring and evaluation – necessary to detect climatic change impacts and develop triggers for implementing different strategies.
We are now undertaking a further step in this project by developing local actions to consider, integrate and implement these priorities.