Perceptions of climate change and adaptation responses in a local community: the Barwon Estuary Complex, Victoria

The climate change focus in Australia has shifted from mitigation to adaptation with an emphasis on place-specific case studies. The Barwon Estuary Complex (BEC) on the Bellarine Peninsula, central Victoria, was the focus of this place-specific study in which 37 local stakeholders were consulted through a series of semi-structured interviews on the impacts of climate change on their coastal community. Overall there was uniformity in stakeholder perceptions of the climate change impacts and vulnerabilities pertaining to the BEC. In contrast, discussion on adaptation drew a diversity of responses. While 53 per cent of stakeholders indicated a need to limit the use of hard structures, and rather plan around a changing estuarine environment, opinion amongst the community group was divided. Some believed ‘retreat is the only option’ whilst others felt ‘there won’t be much leaving’. The present level of confusion around adaptation highlights the imperative of commencing discussions now to allow sufficient time to develop strategies which are both environmentally and socially responsible. This is important as ultimately it will be the community that will determine whether adaptation strategies are adopted or met with resistance.

Scally J., & Wescott G., 2011. Perceptions of climate change and adaptation responses in a local community: the Barwon Estuary Complex, Victoria. Australian Geographer 42(4): 387-401. Article (subscription required).


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