‘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 region’s natural assets, by definition, are adaptive as they have persisted through much climate change in the past. However, this adaptive capacity has now been compromised by environmental changes such as fragmentation, competition for water use and the introduction of foreign plants and animals. The best way we can help our natural assets adapt to climate change will be largely reflected in how we manage our catchments and landscapes into the future.

It is important to note that the potential scale, timing and significance of a changing climate may mean our efforts to build the resilience of natural assets may not be enough. We may have to change or transform what we do and how we manage now, because the assets themselves may need to change dramatically. Having an adaptive and agile approach to managing our natural assets is the basis of this plan.

By definition, ‘mitigation’ is an adaptation response to climate change. Mitigation aims to reduce hazards and exposure to potential impacts to climate change by making a condition or consequence less severe. The most common forms of climate change mitigation include reducing fossil fuel usage, changing human activities to reduce greenhouse gas production, and removing carbon from the atmosphere by actively increasing carbon sequestration.

Undertaking carbon sequestration activities can have varied positive NRM outcomes. Therefore, the protection, enhancement and creation of high quality, long-term carbon sequestration areas will be the main focus for addressing climate change mitigation in this plan.

Examples of positive joint carbon sequestration and NRM outcomes include implementing a strategic revegetation program that addresses carbon sequestration, habitat resilience and creating linkages for native fauna to move to more suitable habitats as existing habitats become unsuitable due to climate change.