‘Adaptation’ is not a new concept in natural systems however it is a fundamental requirement if systems are to exist under a changing climate. Adaptation in NRM is an adjustment in response to actual or expected climatic change or its effects, which minimises detrimental impacts or encourages beneficial opportunities.

Climate change is likely to have many and varied impacts on the region’s natural systems. There are three main types of adaptation and these will underpin the types of adaptation methods, adopted in this plan, to ensure the region’s natural assets can adapt to an environment influenced by climate change.

  • Resilience – the magnitude of change is small and predictable. Adaptation can occur in the form of incremental changes to current management of natural assets, e.g. fencing wetlands on the Victorian Volcanic Plain to protect them from stock and to allow them to build on their own adaptive methods to climate change.
  • Transition – the magnitude of change is larger and less predictable. Change to current management of natural assets needs increased modification and new management measures, e.g. changing the amount of environmental flows in the Moorabool River to allow vulnerable fish species to adapt to projected lower stream flows.
  • Transformation – change is large and the level of uncertainty requires fundamental changes to the management of natural assets, e.g. relocation of fish populations in small creeks to larger permanent waterways to ensure populations are maintained.

The potential scale and significance of a changing climate may mean our efforts to build the resilience of natural assets are not enough. We may have to change or transform what we do and how we manage, because the assets themselves may change dramatically. Equally, we won’t be able to just change from one thing to another, as we will need to ‘transition’ from one management action to another.