Application of GIS-based computer modelling to planning for adaption to climate change in rural areas

A GIS-based computer modelling methodology was developed and applied to identify climate change adaptation issues arising in regional agricultural production systems (including forestry). Agricultural production in Australia is very susceptible to the adverse impacts of climate change due to projected shifts in rainfall and temperature. The methodology integrates land suitability analysis with uncertainty analysis and spatial (regional) optimisation to determine optimal agricultural land use at a regional scale for current and possible future climatic conditions. The approach can be used to recognise regions under threat of productivity decline, identify alternative cropping systems that may be better adapted to likely future conditions, and investigate implementation actions to improve the sub-optimal situations created by climate change. An example of how the methodology may be used is outlined through a case study involving the South West Region of Victoria, Australia. The case study provides information on the tools available to support the formulation of a regional adaptation strategy.