Adapted future landscapes – from aspiration to implementation

Adaptation Research Grants Program
Wayne Meyer
University of Adelaide

Abstract from final report:

This project worked with the Eyre Peninsula and South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions to develop a process of science based “optioneering” that explored future land use options that could be embedded in NRM Board planning and community engagement. The project sought to integrate a stakeholder engagement process called envisioning with the development of a web based planning interface called the Landscape Futures Analysis Tool. The envisioning process helped to identify the values that people influencing NRM use in making decisions about engagement, plans and actions, while the LFAT enabled easy assessment of the possible implications for land use and water resources arising from climate change, commodity prices and carbon pricing.

A series of facilitated workshops was used to explore the application of envisioning. It was apparent that all levels of the planning system, from state public servants to farmers, want the planning process “experienced” in the same way. Core principles relevant to future use of the envisioning process that were identified during the project include that envisioning can operate as a bridge between science and decision making that can integrate the contribution from multiple stakeholders with diverse perspectives and that we must be able to adapt the process to local variations in the social, political, agricultural and natural landscape.

The Landscape Futures Analysis Tool ( is underpinned by analyses that were mostly developed from existing models that were added to and refined for this project, partly on the basis of local experience. Climate change scenarios were based on relevant recent climate (S0), and a mild (S1), moderate (S2) and severe (S3) increase in temperature with accompanying decrease in annual rainfall. All data and projections were developed using regional spatial data stored and subsequently displayed as Geographic Information System (GIS) map layers. 

The analysis finds that it will be possible to adapt to a changing climate if changes in land use are made. It also highlights that policy incentives are likely to be needed to guide and encourage changed practice. Use of the LFAT helped to demonstrate to end users that: 

  • agricultural opportunities in the region rest on the adoption of different management regimes or changes in land use on soil types identified as being negatively impacted by climate change; 
  • in both study regions, conservation priorities became concentrated in more southern latitudes and higher altitudes as warming and drying increased.
  • a large gradient exists in carbon sequestration potential from the drier to wetter areas with economically viable carbon plantings indicated only in the wetter areas.

It is evident from evaluation of the project with the two partner NRM regions that the analysis and LFAT have been beneficial in raising awareness of the possible changes that can occur in the region and that many land use options can be considered in developing new NRM plans. Accompanying this is a greater appreciation of the need for capacity development through training.  Science informed, climate-ready planning requires quality tools like LFAT, together with the predisposition of regional planners through willingness, capacity and commitment.

Enter your NCCARF - National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.