2013 Climate Adaptation Champion, Individual - Brian Foster

A lifetime career devoted to building sustainable economic livelihoods, in tune with the natural environment, amongst the farming communities of the Eyre Peninsula, working over decades to build resilience to drought in institutions, communities and families.

The 2013 Climate Adaptation Champion in the Individual Category is Brian Foster.

Brian is a farmer in the EP, who has worked to the public good over many decades, mainly through NRM activities. He started out on the Board of the Catchment Water Management Board in the EP, and in 2004 he became inaugural Chair of the NRM Board, a position he held until 2010. Since 2010, he has been a member of the SA NRM Council, and also sits on the Premier’s Council for Climate Change and is a member of the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship stakeholders group.

His commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change began when he attended a lecture by Tim Flannery in Port Lincoln. Following that presentation, Brian organised a public forum in Whyalla bringing Mark Stafford Smith, Mark Howden and Tim Flannery to present to an audience of more than 500 people. Three defining natural hazard events reinforced the conviction of the need to act around climate change: the 1991-5 drought, the 2005 bushfire and the 2006 drought. And so, in 2009, Brian was instrumental in injecting climate change as an umbrella issue into the four-volume Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Management Plan, making this the first NRM Board in Australia to consider the issue of climate change.

An abiding principle underlying all Brian’s activities is the need for community and local organisation involvement in order to ensure success. This is epitomised in activities around NRM Board activities around promotion of no-till agriculture, the EP water allocation plan, response and recovery following the 2005 bushfire, and the 2006 Drought Taskforce. Most recently, local and regional organisations were brought together to sign the Eyre Peninsula Regional Sector Agreement in August 2010 between the South Australian Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change, the NRM Board, Regional Development Australia – Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula and the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association. It states: “The Government of South Australia and the Eyre Peninsula Region are taking a collaborative approach to ensure the region is resilient to the changes resulting from climate change and to ensure its ongoing prosperity”

The sector Agreement has led to the creation of a Climate Change Research Action Plan, currently supported by the National Disaster Resilience Scheme and Sector partners. The ground-breaking work that has been undertaken by the Eyre Peninsula is now mirrored by initiatives emerging from the Australian Government. In mid-2012, the Australian Government through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency announced a $44 million Regional NRM Planning for Climate Change Fund to support regional NRM organisations to develop plans to guide where carbon farming projects should be located in the landscape.

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