Exploring the future of the Great Barrier Reef region
CSIRO is hosting a workshop to bring together representatives from key management, industry and research organisations concerned with the Great Barrier Reef region.
“The four scenarios we have developed will help attendees to think differently about the future of the region and identify potential pathways to the future that aren’t presently apparent,” says Dr Iris Bohnet of the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship.
“The scenarios provide valuable insights about long-term challenges and opportunities and reveal the implications of different policies and management actions for the region’s various industries, communities and ecosystems.
“The structured approach of scenario planning is a helpful tool in developing long-term strategic plans for a sustainable region that incorporate a wide range of uncertainties.”
The four scenarios describe how changes in the region, such as climate change and globalisation, have combined to shape life in 2050. The outcomes of these changes vary between scenarios, addressing questions such as:
Will rising sea-levels and recurring cyclones brought about by climate change drive people away from flood-prone coastal towns or will governments build seawalls to protect seashore properties and residents?
Will a major climate change event trigger stricter regulations to protect the reef and rainforests or will the focus be on economic growth to offset the effects of this major change?
Will drought in Australia’s south drive a boom in agriculture in the Great Barrier Reef region where water is more abundant or will farms become economically unviable, instead being managed for environmental outcomes?
Over 40 interviews and a broad literature review were conducted by the team in order to develop plausible storylines for the scenarios.
The workshop is the next step in developing the scenarios and this planning technique. Interested collaborators will then be able to work with the team to apply the scenarios to specific policy or planning questions.
The scenario planning approach is a first for the region but has been used around the world with great success.
The Great Barrier Reef Future Scenarios workshop will be held at the new Australian Forest Institute at James Cook University’s Cairns campus.
CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.
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CSIRO has come up with four scenarios that explore how changes in the Great Barrier Reef region, such as climate change and globalisation, will shape the region in 2050.
The researchers used interviews and literature reviews to develop plausible storylines for the scenarios.
The scenarios will be now be applied to specific policy and planning questions.