How will climate affect us? Envisioning possible futures for the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac NRM regions

Regional climate scenario planning participants from left, Frank Murray (Agforce), Serge Berardi (Plane Creek Productivity Services), Lindon Lawn (Department of State Development), and Jo Blinco (Wilmar).

Regional climate scenario planning participants from left, Frank Murray (Agforce) Serge Berardi
(Plane Creek Productivity Services), Lindon Lawn (Department of State Development) and Jo Blinco (Wilmar).

Is our region equipped to manage an evolving climate moving forward? Not yet, according to recent workshops hosted by Reef Catchments.

More than 40 delegates from Mackay, the Whitsundays and Isaac have gathered to discuss regional drivers of climate risk and change as part of regional scenario planning workshops in Mackay and Proserpine – Envisioning Possible Futures for the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac NRM Region.

Participants included representatives from the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac Regional Councils, State and Federal government, CSIRO researchers, Traditional Owners, local industry and natural resource management planners.

Reef Catchments Climate & Landscapes Systems Coordinator, Dr Robyn Bell, said there was a consensus from the room that planning needs to consider climate risk now – including predicted changes in climate at a local and regional level.

“The workshops brought together delegates from all backgrounds – business, research and environmental. What everyone agreed on is that it is time for the Mackay, Whitsundays and Isaac regions to start to really think about how to plan and mitigate against the risk of changes in climate locally,” Dr Bell said.

“With more intense rainfall and storm events and greater variability in climate predicted for Queensland in the future, it makes sense for our area – which is already heavily impacted by weather, flooding and storm tide events – to factor climate into business and living decisions.”

Dr Iris Bohnet from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences said the workshops also highlighted opportunities for collaboration between sectors.

“Diverse sectors can support each other to prepare plans around climate science moving forward that have a real practical use in the community,” Dr Bohnet said.

“The workshops provided an excellent example of how science and research can support planning for climate and other changes at a more local level.”

Dr Bell said historically there has been little data available for climate projections specific to the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac regions.

“We have commissioned the first research into this area and will be releasing this research to the wider community in the near future. This will be a valuable tool for future planning around projected local climate scenarios,” she said.

Other key points highlighted by the group include the need for increased community capacity to respond to changes in climate, the importance of updates to emergency and disaster planning, and climate planning for business and local government.

For more information on regional climate research contact Robyn Bell robyn.bell@reefcatchments.com

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