The Future of Australian Riparian Ecosystems: Joint network workshop

Climate change is one of the most influential threats to riparian zones and the biodiversity associated with these ecosystems. The combination of land use practices, hydrologic interferences, species introductions, and projected climatic changes create excessive pressures on the function of riparian zones.  From the 20-24th of June 2011, the Water Resources and Freshwater Biodiversity and the Terrestrial Biodiversity Adaptation Research Networks held a workshop designed to examine these issues and generate progressive adaptation options for riparian ecosystems with respect to social, economic and ecological objectives. Experts from a variety of backgrounds including ecology, biogeochemistry, social science and economy attended the workshop producing an integrated holistic approach to the topic. They key areas that received focus during the workshop included:  a cohesive definition of riparian zones that encompasses variations of riparian zones in all forms; the key values of riparian zones and the goods and services that they provide; likely vulnerabilities and potential impacts of climate change on riparian zone structure and function; adaptation options with respect to these vulnerabilities; and areas that require immediate action. From these topics, a synthesis paper on the workshop discussions and six paper outputs have been developed. The outcomes of this workshop will assist towards the appropriate management of riparian zones, avoiding perverse solutions or mal-adaptation of these highly vulnerable systems.