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Past, Present and Future Landscapes: Understanding Alternative Futures for Climate Change Adaptation of Coastal Settlements and Communities

  • Year: 2013
  • Author: Morley, P., Trammell, J., Reeve, I., McNeill, J., Brunckhorst, D., Bassett, S.
  • Publisher: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
  • Published Location: Gold Coast
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: New South Wales

Though shaped by past elements, history demonstrates that future landscapes will be very different from those of the present. This is particularly so in coastal areas of rapid urban growth. The effects of climate change in the future will therefore be impacting on these quite different landscapes, not on those we see today.

To gauge the severity of these impacts we must understand the future settlement patterns likely to emerge. This project examines the past and present drivers of landscape change in the Northern Rivers region of north-eastern New South Wales, and then models several scenarios for the future, based on land use planning decisions that might be taken. For example, the two extremes are a scenario of ‘deregulated’ growth, and one which takes a high degree of precaution, a ‘high climate adapted’ scenario. The effects of these ‘alternative futures’ can be visualised, and the area of land, and number of people affected by climate change impacts, quantified. The approach enables important elements of the landscape to be integrated. Also, by enabling alternative futures to be visualised, the method may also be used to engage the community to have a say in their preferred pathway.

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