The predicted changes to our environment driven by global warming present a number of key challenges for our natural environment. The increase to local temperatures by an average of one degree, reductions in winter rainfalls, increases in number of days over 35°C and increases in intensity of storm events, are some of the factors that are likely to directly impact on local biodiversity though the following mechanisms:
- Alteration of the timing of flowering and breeding cycles in native plants and animals,
- Interruption to winter growing season for plants,
- Increase in frequency and severity of bushfires,
- Increase in frequency and severity of flood events,
- Higher potential for erosion events,
- Changes in the impacts of introduced plants (weeds) and feral animals,
- Reductions in groundwater recharge, and
- Reductions in average stream flows.
A key management strategy identified under the Climate Change and Biodiversity Landscape Scenario Assessment for the Resilient Hills and Coasts Region document for terrestrial 'Upland Landscapes', is to 'Increase Resilience'. These landscapes would be expected to retain significant biodiversity values under all scenarios, but this would be contingent on removing existing threats, repairing past impacts, and re-instating impaired ecological processes1.
Conversely, wetland and riparian ecosystems are considered likely to experience significant variability in water regimes and the key management strategy is 'Active Adaptation to Transformation' to avoid the likely loss of these ecosystems and help maintain stability and ecological function.
A number of potential broad opportunities with regard to biodiversity management are worthy of consideration to help respond to climate change uncertainty. These could include:
- Strategic creation of new habitat areas through revegetation, including wildlife corridors and buffer zones across the region,
- Restoration and protection of existing habitat areas,
- Adjustment to species mixes for revegetation programs to accommodate changing conditions,
- Improving water storage capacity for use during dry periods, whilst ensuring environmental flows for local catchments,
- Improving fire-fighting capacities, and
- Developing adaptive integrated pest management programs.
1West, A. (2016) Climate Change and Biodiversity Landscape Scenario Assessment for the Resilient Hills and Coasts Region. Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Adelaide.
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