Climate change research has community focus

Professor Wayne Meyer.
Photo by Jennie Groom.

Professor Wayne Meyer.
Photo by Jennie Groom.

Full Image (118.4K)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

How big is the problem of climate change for South Australia, what can we do to prepare for it and adapt to it, and how will it involve and impact on the community?

Those are some of the big questions being posed by a new $2.7 million research project at the University of Adelaide, which aims to identify just how vulnerable South Australia is to climate change, and what we can do about it that will lead to a better environment as well as more productive communities.

The project - called Climate Change, Communities and Environment - is led by Professor Wayne Meyer, Professor of Natural Resource Science and key member of the University's newly formed Environment Institute.

The research recently won $1.3 million funding from the SA Premier's Science & Research Fund and involves State Government agencies and the State's Natural Resource Management (NRM) Boards.

"This project brings a diverse range of skills together to tackle a really important and tough problem - how do we keep our regions productive and viable and at the same time look after the soil, water, native plants and animals?" Professor Meyer says.

"We need to find ways to improve and expand native bush areas and keep the local plant, bird and animal species. At the same time we want to explore how to improve the viability of farms and keep vibrant local communities."

Working with NRM Boards and members of local communities, the researchers aim to take both a big picture and a small detail approach to developing responses to climate change.

"We need to know the detail of what makes up the landscape now - for example, what land uses exist, where the roads and structures are, and how people make a living and access services. We need to find out what the people themselves think about a wide range of issues, including the use of the land, their thoughts about the vibrancy of their community, and their input into the work that needs to be done with soils, vegetation, animals and water resources.

"We know that all of these things are linked - what affects one thing will have some effect on all of the others," he says.

Professor Meyer says it will be critical for communities to change how they look after and use the land in order to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

"The demand for food is increasing, the price of fuel and fertilizers is increasing rapidly and the survival of native vegetation and animals is declining. It is very hard to think about the best combinations of land use for conservation and production to meet all of these changes. That's what our research aims to do - help adapt for this future by taking well-informed decisions today," he says.


Contact Details

Professor Wayne Meyer
Professor of Natural Resources Science
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 8110
Mobile: 0407 953 544

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762