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Climate Vulnerability Assessment

The Department of Primary Industries, through the Climate Change Research Strategy, is undertaking a comprehensive assessment of primary industry vulnerability to climate change for New South Wales. The assessment will fill gaps in our knowledge about climate change impacts for the state’s primary producers in five industry sectors:

  1. Horticulture and Viticulture
  2. Broadacre Cropping
  3. Forestry
  4. Extensive Livestock
  5. Marine Fisheries

We are assessing the climate change impacts for a range of commodities for each industry, with 28 assessed in total. We will also analyse biosecurity risks relevant to each industry. In total, the project will include 14 biosecurity threats of importance for cropping, horticulture and viticulture, and livestock pastures and animal health.

The assessment is being conducted in two key stages:

  1. Impact Assessment: to improve our understanding of climate change risks and impacts to primary industries for NSW
  2. Adaptation Assessment: to provide evidence of the value of adaptation to reduce impacts to primary industries for NSW

*Over the coming months, to June 2022, the Vulnerability Assessment project will be investigating key adaption strategies for 28 primary industries.

Given the severity of impacts on primary industries from recent droughts, the project will also produce a report on the changing nature of drought under climate change for agriculture. This will provide insights into how droughts might change in frequency and nature under future climate conditions.

Stage 1: Impact Assessment

The impact assessments follow a consistent methodology to enable comparability between commodities but also with biosecurity risks. The approach is based on multi-criteria analysis (MCA) which allows us to focus on the climate criteria required for each individual commodity and biosecurity threat. Through mapping, we will analyse how climate change might impact suitability for the various commodities and biosecurity risks, placing them side by side to answer comparative questions. The analysis will be conducted on both an industry and a regional basis allowing us to explore questions such as ‘which commodities may be best suited to my region under climate change’.

The impact assessment approach follows a number of steps and integrates knowledge from experts within the Department and from other organisations. These steps are outlined below:

  1. An MCA model for each commodity and biosecurity risk is developed with assistance from expert DPI staff.
  2. Using a small group of industry experts, a focus group is held to discuss and assess the MCA model.
  3. The MCA model is applied to historical climate data and internally assessed before being reviewed by the panel of experts.
  4. Any further changes to the model by the panel of experts are undertaken.
  5. Upon finalising the MCA model an external review of the model is conducted by Deakin University.
  6. The MCA model is run through future projection data for scenarios RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5.Vulnerability Assessment Flowchart