About the Future Landscapes Project

Future Landscapes is a climate change adaptation project that will help Councils from the Central Highlands region of Victoria, better understand the impacts of projected climate change on the region’s natural assets and respond effectively to protect and improve agriculture and natural resources across the region.

Based in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Future Landscapes is a collaborative partnership between the Hepburn Shire Council, Golden Plains Shire, Moorabool Council, Pyrenees Shire Council, City of Ballarat and Cultivate Agribusiness Central Highlands Inc.

The project was funded by the Victorian State Government, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The project was delivered during 2015 and 2016, with final reporting to the State Government in November 2016.

Research Findings

The Future Landscapes research findings have provided a unique insight into the opportunities for agriculture, biodiversity and land use planning for the Central Highlands Region. The project provides an indication of  the predicted climate variations that will be experienced across the over the next fifty years and highlights where the region can capitalise on potential future agricultural production while planning for land use and the protection of biodiversity assets.
In summary, the analysis indicated that:

  • the Central Highlands region has a biophysical environment (climate, soil and topography) that is highly suited to sustaining a productive agricultural sector. 
  • the extent of native ecosystems continues to decline throughout the region, primarily due to clearance for other land use activities.  This will be exacerbated by climate change, and key strategies for biodiversity protection include protection of remnant native ecosystems, enhancing habitat resources within the existing ecosystems and revegetation in strategic areas.
  • the Central Highlands region has a biophysical environment (climate, soil and topography) that is highly suited to sustaining a productive agricultural sector. 

The Future Landscapes project has produced a number of reports that present the findings of the project research. The summary report is the Regional Agricultural and Biodiversity Climate Adaptation and Opportunities report. The project has also developed reports relating to Agricultural Commodity Case Studies, Biodiversity Plans and a Rural Land Use review for Hepburn Shire. These reports are all presented below.

Project Updates

A number of project updates have been produced throughout the project which provide information about the project partners, aims and methodology. These are presented below.

Regional Agricultural and Biodiversity Adaptation and Opportunities Report

Regional Agricultural Commodity Case Studies

Biodiversity Plans

Climate Cognisant Hepburn: Rural Land Use Review

Why the Project is Important for the Region

Victoria’s Central Highlands Region is celebrated for its significant rural and agricultural assets, highly productive and versatile soils, intensive agriculture areas and infamous wine region. The Region is also home to significant environmental resources and biodiversity assets including native grasslands, extensive water catchments, national and state parks and state forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes.

Like all Australian regional and rural areas, Central Highlands Region is not immune to the impact that climate change can have on local communities, industries and economies. It is critical that Councils understand the risks and opportunities and are well prepared for the future with appropriate adaptation strategies and approaches.

The Future Landscapes project will equip Councils in the region with the information, tools and strategies to protect and improve agriculture and natural resources across the region

Dry Stone Wall - Renewable Energy

Partners and Research Team

The Project is an exemplar for collaboration and cooperation between Local Government Areas and has highlighted the value of taking a regional approach to planning for a response to major environmental challenges such as climate change. Project partners include; the City of Ballarat and the Shires of Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool and Pyrenees and Cultivate Agribusiness

During delivery of the project, Cultivate Agribusiness was Project Manager on behalf of the project partners.  Following a competitive tender process, Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures and Centre for Integrative Ecology were appointed to deliver the project.

The Deakin Research Team consists of Associate Professor Robert Faggian (agriculture and climate change adaptation), Associate Professor Victor Sposito (strategic spatial planning and climate change), Mr Harmen Romeijn (climate impact and spatial modelling), Dr Hemayet Hossain (modelling and spatial science), Dr Shaun Cunningham (forest and terrestrial ecology) and Dr Kimberley James (aquatic and riparian ecology). Collectively, the Deakin researchers have made significant contributions, in Australia and internationally, to sustainable regional development and natural resource management.

The project team and partners would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of Dr Shaun Cunningham who passed away in September 2016.

Future Landscapes Partners

What's Next

Project partners have prioritised a number of projects for future investigation, including the following regional projects:

  • Central Highlands National Food Bowl – to plan out the steps required to achieve agricultural productivity that will position the region as a new National Food Bowl
  • Water Resource Planning – to research water resources across the region and to understand and model climate impacts and to expand the application of innovative water management technologies, sucha s sustainable irrigation and water recycling at farm level, to achieve agricultural productivity goals
  • Future Landscapes Communications and Engagement – to plan for the development and delivery of a range of communications and engagement activities to share project learnings with interested residents, businesses and other stakeholders in the Central Highlands Region

Planning is also underway to deliver a number of local projects:

  • The Agriculture – Biodivesrity interface - Use of marginal agricultural land to determine best alternative future uses
  • Increasing understanding local biodiversity assets - asset audit to inform Council management
  • Strategic value of ecosystems - Expanding climate modeling to the full range of native ecosystems across the region
  • Facilitate funding for biodiversity conservation planning and works.

For more information about the project, please contact any of the project partners.
For agricultural matters please contact the Economic Development Team,
or for biodiversity matters please contact the Planning and Environment Team:

Golden Plains Shire Council - 03 5220 7111
Hepburn Shire Council - 03 5348 2306
Moorabool Shire Council - 03 5366 7100
Pyrenees Shires Council - 03 5349 1100
City of Ballarat - 03 5320 5500

Cultivate Agribusiness Central Highlands Inc - www.cultivate.org.au
Deakin University, Centre for Regional and Rural Futures and School of Life and Environmental Sciences,
Professor Robert Faggian - E: .

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