Biodiversity Adaptation

The ACT Government recognises climate change as a driver that is influencing how we manage the environment. Many of our projects contribute to addressing risks to ecosystems and species from a changing climate.

Priorities are:

  • increasing understanding of current and potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity
  • engaging the community in how we manage the environment and protect threatened plants and animals under climate uncertainty
  • strengthening partnerships for managing biodiversity in a changing climate.

Accessed through the ACT Government’s ACTmapi portal, wetlands of the ACT are mapped and classified based upon a detailed assessment of potential vulnerability to climate change. This vulnerability assessment draws heavily upon the ACT Hydrogeological Landscape (HGL) Framework.

The wetland vulnerability assessment considers the future implications of possible future climate scenarios: best case scenario (wet-cool), worst case (dry-hot), and a ‘consensus’ scenario (the average of all scenarios).  Factors considered in the assessment include indicators of current anthropogenic pressure (e.g. land use), potential future hydrology impacts (e.g. surface run off, groundwater recharge, evapotranspiration), as well as potential future changes in biodiversity composition (e.g. vascular plants, amphibians). A detailed description of the vulnerability assessment, including management implications, are summarised here in the Wetland Vulnerability to Climate Change in the ACT Report.

Associated data and reports were developed by the University of Canberra, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), as a component of the broader ACT Hydrogeological Landscapes project undertaken for the ACT Government.

Recent research suggests half the world's species are already moving in response to human-induced climate change, at a rate not been observed since the mass extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Those not able to find suitable habitats risk extinction.

A key strategy to help biodiversity adapt to climate change is to identify and manage biodiversity refugia. These are areas where biodiversity is likely to persist under climate change.

The Biodiversity Refugia project will identify, protect and manage potential biodiversity refugia across the region. Information on the location, extent and nature of local biodiversity refugia can feed into targeted restoration and management interventions, more effective long-term protection of conservation assets and better understanding of the ecology and vulnerability of desirable species. Monitoring of refugia also will contribute valuable information on how best to manage climate-related impacts.

This project will produce models and maps to inform management, and products should be available in early 2018.

Biodiversity adaptation pathways are an approach to help decision makers plan for and respond to a changing climate.

The BAPP ran a series of workshops with the NRM community in 2015 and 2016 to consider future climate impacts and social drivers of change for the ACT and region – with a focus on lowland grasslands, lowland woodlands and aquatic ecosystems.

These workshops identified four areas of priority work :

  1. Strengthening climate ready objectives of policies, strategies and plans in order to support the implementation of adaptive management principles
  2. Identifying climate refugia for key species
  3. Monitoring for biodiversity climate adaptation
  4. Managing data and information to strengthen decision-making and collaboration

The project report is available here