FRDC-DCCEE: a climate change adaptation blueprint for coastal regional communities
University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Meeting the challenge of preparing and adapting for climate change is arguably the most important task confronting the management of our national marine resources. Climate change is expected to result in significant impacts for marine ecosystems with flow on social and economic implications for resource users and communities. Importantly, coastal rural communities have greater dependency on marine industries that provide social and economic benefits through fishing, aquaculture and tourism (e.g. recreational fishing and diving). The success of adaptation decisions in terms of meeting objectives, capturing opportunities and overcoming barriers, being cost effective and minimising negative flow on effects will be influenced by the level of understanding of the needs, priorities, perceptions and attitudes of stakeholders including knowledge of the social and economic consequences of adaptation options. Without such information, our ability to make timely and effective adaptation decisions will be limited. Developing the tools that provide the relevant information to reduce risks and increase capacity to cope with, and benefit from, change is urgently needed for these coastal communities. These tools need to cross discipline boundaries and provide linkages between the vulnerabilities of the biological system with the adaptive capacity and vulnerabilities of the human system. To meet this need, this project brings together leading marine multi-disciplinary researchers with proven expertise in inter-disciplinary, participatory research approaches to engage stakeholders in the process of developing a suite of strategically targeted marine adaptation tools that will represent a blueprint for marine stakeholders nationally. The blueprint will facilitate these tools being readily adopted by different marine communities, industries and individuals enabling them to make informed decisions based on a range of climate change adaptation options designed to minimise impacts and maximise opportunities. The project focuses on NARP themes 2 and 4, and addresses areas 2 and 3 of the regional programs.
1. Develop and trial a "blueprint" using three marine community case studies in southeastern, western and northern Australia, that objectively integrates a suite of adaptation assessment and evaluation tools for the provision of best choice marine climate change adaptation options to these coastal communities.
2. Compare and synthesise potential adaptation options across case studies to develop a) an understanding of the context dependence of adaptation in marine communities, and b) a portfolio of generic adaptation options for sub-tropical to temperate coastal and regional marine communities in Australia.
3. Based on the outcomes of 1 and 2, determine the broad representativeness of the blueprint to address the needs and priorities of coastal rural communities throughout Australia.
4. Develop capacity for inter-disciplinary research by training and mentoring two early career researchers.
Principal Investigator: Stewart Frusher
Key words: Coastal communities, climate change adaptation, marine sectors, qualitative modelling, web-based
Summary: Regional coastal community residents and individuals associated with different marine sectors around
Australia are intimate observers of local marine climate change phenomena. Even though often the
impacts of marine climate change are already being felt, they are sometimes not given due recognition as
a consequence of the multitude of non-climate pressures also impacting these marine sectors. Moreover,
the cumulative flow on consequences and knock-on economic effects of marine climate pressures are
rarely known or recognised.
The priority issue that needs to be addressed to encourage marine climate adaptation in regional coastal
communities is not the lack of tools to plan for adaptation. There are currently many toolboxes and
wizards freely available on the internet that detail planning- and risk assessment processes for developing
climate adaptation plans. Rather, there is a need to make clearly worded and locally relevant marine
climate change facts and data available and readily accessible. This type of information can provide a
conduit for communities to determine relevant economic and social vulnerability factors, assess marine
climate change knock-on effects and thus encourage them to prepare more detailed adaptation plans for
their regional coastal communities. From understanding the background, context, community links, and
potential community level implications it is more likely communities will be self-motivated and prepare a
marine climate adaptation plan that, beside the common elements like sea level rise, also includes the
issue of the impact on the marine environment per se.
A web-based blueprint, where much of the scientific information is not simply collated but communicated
to create interest for non-science users, has been developed (coastalclimateblueprint.org.au). Enhancing
the communication values of marine climate information, and the opportunity to update the information as
it becomes available is intended to improve general acceptance of the potential impact of marine climate
change. Aside from effective communication of marine climate information, the web-based blueprint also
allows users to carry out a simple and high level vulnerability assessment and prepare their own simple
adaptation plan online. The information provision and vulnerability assessment will require ‘minimal user
effort’ but will, nevertheless, be informative and is primarily aimed at illustrating the value of adaptation
planning and encouraging users to undertake more detailed adaptation planning in the future.
Aside from information included in the web-based blueprint, the case studies undertaken as part of this
project provided much information on the community’s marine climate observations and knowledge. The
community consultation process contributed to scientific knowledge and testing of methodological
applications. There are several scientific papers in review and development. The papers focus on
different aspects of using qualitative information from community interviews in modelling community
level climate and non-climate interactions and developing adaptations from this type of information. This
project has contributed to scientific knowledge and helped illustrate the value of qualitative modelling in
developing adaptation plans.
In summary, the project has had three clear outcomes: an insight into the community level understanding
of marine climate change; a web-based blueprint communicating marine climate knowledge and
information and also providing an opportunity for community level vulnerability assessments; and lastly,
an increased understanding of the usefulness of qualitative approaches to modelling marine climate
impacts at a community level.