Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Understanding climate-change adaptation on Kakadu National Park, using a combined diagnostic and modelling framework: a case study at Yellow Water wetland

Leo X. C. Dutra A E F , Peter Bayliss A , Sandra McGregor B , Peter Christophersen B , Kelly Scheepers C , Emma Woodward C , Emma Ligtermoet C D and Lizandra F. C. Melo A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Business Unit, Queensland BioSciences Precinct, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

B Kakadu Native Plants, PO Box 319, Jabiru, NT 0886, Australia.

C CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre, Land and Water Business Unit, 564 Vanderlin Drive, Berrimah, NT 0828, Australia.

D The Australian National University (ANU), Fenner School of Environment and Society, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

E School of Marine Studies, Faculty of Science, Technology & Environment, The University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay Road, Suva, Fiji Islands.

F Corresponding author. Email: leo.dutra@csiro.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16166
Submitted: 27 May 2016  Accepted: 18 May 2017   Published online: 8 September 2017

Abstract

This paper describes a semi-quantitative approach for the assessment of sea-level rise (SLR) impacts on social–ecological systems (SES), using Yellow Water wetland on Kakadu National Park as a case study. The approach includes the application of a diagnostic framework to portray the existing SES configuration, including governance structures, in combination with qualitative modelling and Bayesian belief networks. Although SLR is predicted to cause saltwater inundation of freshwater ecosystems, cultural sites and built infrastructure, our study suggested that it may provide also an opportunity to bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge and governance systems, towards a commonly perceived threat. Where feasible, mitigation actions such as levees may be required to manage local SLR impacts to protect important freshwater values. In contrast, adaptation will require strategies that facilitate participation by Kakadu Bininj (the Aboriginal people of Kakadu National Park) in research and monitoring programs that enhance understanding of salinity impacts and the adaptive capacity to respond to reasonably rapid, profound and irreversible future landscape-scale changes.

Additional keywords: Bininj, feedback, Ramsar, resilience, uncertainty, World Heritage.


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