Limits to adaptation. Climate change adaptation in the Coorong, Murray Mouth and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert

Catherine Gross, Jamie Pittock, C. Max Finlayson and Michael C. Geddes

This report identifies and documents limits to adaptation and adaptation pathways for the Coorong Wetlands. The Coorong and Lakes Region offers critical lessons for adapting to climate change because it is at the end of the iconic Murray River, and comprises a large and complex wetland system of international environmental importance by the coast. It is the traditional country of the Ngarrindjeri Nation and supports vibrant communities. The Region has been subject to continual environmental change. Key 'limits' to climate change adaptation in the Region were identified, concerning the availability of water and arrangements of water sharing, a lack of institutional capacity to create trust and effective working relationships between communities, governments and scientists, and an inability to learn from the past and consider all perspectives for future adaptation options. The primary adaptation strategy that would maximize environmental and socio-economic benefits in the Region under all conditions is to increase environmental flows from the River Murray, and to a lesser extent, the South Australian catchments. This report recommends climate change adaptation be mainstreamed into water management, development of a long-term management plan considering both Murray-Darling Basin inflows and ongoing climate change impacts, effective implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the implementation and assessment of a number of new adaptation measures. A companion factsheet to this report can be found here. This is one of the six case studies conducted for NCCARF’s ‘Limits to Adaptation’ project to explore the underlying causes and potential to transcend limits in particular regions. A factsheet synthesising the key findings from the 'Limits to Adaptation project' is available here.

Resource Type: 
Case studies
Research report
South Australia
Biodiversity, natural resources

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