The Northern and Yorke Regional Drought Plan is open for feedback

Do you want to have your say on the priorities being developed to build drought resilience in the Northern and Yorke region? The draft plan is now open for feedback with a forum being held in Port Pirie on Thursday, 30 June 2022 for the community to discuss the goals and priorities of the plan.

The Northern and Yorke Regional Drought Resilience Plan draft plan has been developed through a co-design process led by Edge Environment as part of the Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program under the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

Once completed, the plan will guide future planning and investment in practices and projects that will assist farm businesses, agricultural supply chains and communities build resilience to drought and adapt to changing climatic conditions.

RDA Yorke and Mid North Chair, Bill Vandepeer acknowledges the region’s long history with agricultural production and the need to adapt to future conditions, given the region’s extensive agricultural production that covers 91% of the region’s area and contributing over $1.7 billion in gross regional product in 2020-21.

“A key finding of the draft plan notes that communities within our region will be affected by future drought in different ways, with northern communities expected to be hit particularly hard. However, communities’ different experiences with drought historically mean that communities on the Yorke Peninsula and in the Mid North need to act now to increase their drought resilience in the future, given their relative lack of experience in responding changing drought conditions that will see conditions change more quickly and severely in the future”.

“This highlights the need to plan and identify future opportunities to build drought resilience to ensure we have productive industries in the face of a changing climate.” said Mr Vandepeer.

This sentiment is echoed by RDA Barossa, Gawler, Light and Adelaide Plains Chair, Rolf Binder, who said the need for water infrastructure is imperative to our wine regions as well as our horticultural production areas.

“The higher rainfall areas in the south have got to start preparing for the next drought and think about water access to ensure we can continue to have such a large impact on the state’s GRP,” said Mr Binder.

The Department of Environment and Water 2020 climate projections identify future drought impacts as:

  • Increasingly severe drought, highlighted by increased evaporation and decreased precipitation.
  • More frequent droughts, 65% of time colud be spent in drought by 2030.
  • Projected declines in soil moisture, which in drought years will accentuate impacts.

Landscape SA Northern and Yorke Chair, Hon Caroline Schaefer, highlights the need to incorporate resilience building measures across our landscapes to ensure sustainable practices are followed.

“The climate projections from the Department of Environment and Water are quite sobering. The need to incorporate resilience measures into our agricultural enterprises and supply chains is imperative to ensure we have viable landscapes into the future,” said Ms Schaefer.

As the primary employer and driver for economic activity in the region, agriculture businesses and supply chains are highly exposed to these impacts. This will also impact our major urban areas, with flow on effects to services such as health, finance, education and the liveability of our towns.

The Legatus Group Chair, Mayor Phillip Heaslip, recognises the flow on effects of drought to local communities.

“From experience, we know that droughts affect people’s livelihoods and health. This plan aims to assist our region tackle some of those issues, so communities become more resilient through implementing localised support networks and ensuring our towns have the right services and amenities available,” said Mayor Heaslip.

The plan has been developed by Edge Environment who have identified of the key drought risk factors for the region with five resilience themes being developed to produce 40 priorities and 120 actions to build drought resilience in the region.

Edge Environment Director, Dr Mark Siebentritt highlights that priorities and actions have been developed to not only protect the vitality of the agriculture industry but also to minimise drought impacts on our food systems.

“Human driven climate warming is a global issue, but we are experiencing localised impacts on agriculture which does threaten the productivity of our food systems that we all rely on. The priorities and actions recommended in this report provides a pathway for industry, business and individuals to embed drought resilience into their lives and communities,” said Dr Siebentritt.

The Northern and Yorke Regional Alliance (comprising Regional Development Australia, Northern and Yorke Landscape SA Board and Central Local Government Association) are seeking feedback on the draft Northern and Yorke Regional Drought Resilience Plan by Monday, 4 July 2022.

Register for the community forum here: nydroughtplanforum.eventbrite.com.au

To read the report visit: www.droughtresilientny.com.au.