Analysing Landscape Futures for Dryland Agricultural Areas: a Case Study in the Lower Murray Region of Southern Australia
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There is an urgent need to reverse the declining environmental condition of rural landscapes across southern Australia. Current approaches focus on natural resources management planning, policy and decision making at the regional level. Regional plans and associated onground investment have the potential to have widespread and long-lasting environmental, economic and social impacts. However, rarely are these impacts quantified and clearly understood.
In this chapter we describe part of a large integrated project called the Lower Murray Landscape Futures (LMLF) which aimed to assess the impact of regional plans for the Lower Murray on selected environmental and socioeconomic indicators under alternative future landscape scenarios with input from stakeholders. The dryland component of the LMLF is a large-scale integrated regional planning and landscape futures analysis focussing on issues such as: agricultural production including food, fibre and bioenergy production; soil erosion; loss of terrestrial biodiversity; rising watertables; and the salinisation of the land and waterways. The project was designed to be inclusive and engender collaboration amongst researchers, participation by regional stakeholders, and communication to regional stakeholders and communities.
The intention is to provide useful evidence-based natural resourcemanagement planning advice to regional agencies. Landscape futures are plausible spatial arrangements of management actions (vegetation management, ecological restoration, conservation farming, deep-rooted perennials, biomass, and biofuels) that achieve regional natural resource management targets, assessed under six policy options and five climatic and economic scenarios. The triple bottom line impacts of landscape futures under each scenario and policy option were then assessed and visualised. The costs and benefits of landscape futures were compared and the trade-offs assessed to inform regional planning in the Lower Murray.
KeywordsWind Erosion Natural Resource Management Policy Option Ecological Restoration Conservation Farming
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