Adapting to climate change: A risk assessment and decision making framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels. Guidelines for use

Authors: Jane Chambers, Gaia Nugent, Bea Sommer, Peter Speldewinde, Simon Neville, Stephen Beatty, Stacey Chilcott, Stefan Eberhard, Nicola Mitchell, Frances D’Souza, Olga Barron, Don McFarlane, Michael Braimbridge, Belinda Robson, Paul Close, David Morgan, Adrian Pinder, Ray Froend, Pierre Horwitz, arbara Cook and Peter Davies
Year: 2013

This document provides guidance on how to use a risk assessment and decision making framework that has been developed for the management of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) with declining groundwater levels due to climate change, anthropogenic extraction, land use and land management. The framework was developed in ecosystems that contain surface expression of groundwater in wetlands and rivers, and the subterranean expression of groundwater in caves, but could be adapted to any type of GDE or surface water system within Australia and internationally. The framework is based around the construction of a conceptual model which identifies the interrelationships between climate, hydrology, water quality and/or biotic resources and the biota in an ecosystem; it provides a transparent outline of the cause and effects of change to an ecosystem, highlighting key drivers that provide the focus for management and climate change adaptation. Framework guidelines are presented here in two parts. Part 1, ‘Identifying your Management Issue and the Nature of your Ecosystem’, outlines steps to I) identify the management issue of concern, ii) determine if your ecosystem is groundwater dependent, iii) construct a hydrogeological model that identifies the inputs and outputs of water in the GDE, iv) determine the spatial boundaries of the system and v) prioritise assets within these boundaries. Part 2, ‘The Risk Assessment and Decision-Making Framework’, outlines how to incorporate information in a series of five steps that creates a model relevant to your ecosystem and management/adaptation needs. These guidelines are supported by a separate companion document Development and Case Studies (Chambers et al., 2013) which describes how the framework was developed and tested in three Australian GDE case studies.

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