Support our resource use
The region’s diverse economy is reliant on our natural assets. The major land use (by area) in the region is agriculture. The construction, mining and manufacturing industries are the top three employment sectors for the region.
Agriculture will continue to be the dominant land use in the catchment into the future. Construction, mining and manufacturing are expected to continue to be major drivers of the region’s economy. All resource use has some impacts on our natural assets. Population growth and intensification of land use will increase the pressures on our natural assets.
In the next few decades, the region’s climate is expected to be warmer with a 0.5 – 1.5oC increase in average temperatures, with more frequent and hotter hot days and less frost. Changes to rainfall are less clear, with little change in average rainfall predicted in the next few decades. Extreme events such as intense rainfall and drought, are expected to increase but are less predictable. Sea levels will continue to rise by about 10-20 cm by 2030. Later this century, the climate is expected to be hotter and drier. How much hotter and drier depends on how quickly global greenhouse gas emissions are stabilised.
The condition of our natural assets is expected to continue to decline with population growth, land use intensification and progressive changes to the climate. Vegetation disturbance, soil erosion and impacts on water quality and quantity will continue to be important management priorities for the region.
The region currently supports stronghold populations of some species (remnant populations of species that were previously more widespread). These will be under further pressure, and more species will become locally extinct. Remnant vegetation networks are vulnerable to further clearing. Marine ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef, are expected to decline from the impacts of climate change, agricultural run-off and coastal development.
The impacts of increasing temperature and changing climate patterns on ecosystems are very difficult to predict. Maintaining the extent and connectivity of natural ecosystems, such as vegetation corridors and natural water flows, provides the best opportunities for ecosystems to adapt. Similarly, climate change poses risk to industries and communities that rely on our natural assets. Diverse economies, strong networks and a good knowledge base will best support regional adaptation.
Industry sector summaries have been prepared for the Grazing, Coal and Coal Seam Gas, and Cropping sectors. Each sector summary outlines the current situation and identifies the key strategies that will ensure central Queensland’s industries remain sustainable into the future.
Drivers of change
Many of the changes in natural resource management are driven by economic and cultural changes happening in the wider environment. Some of these are:
- Food security and expectations of greater productivity
- Increasing devolution of responsibilities to local government
- Uncertainty over carbon markets
- Boom and bust cycles in the resources sector
- Increasing energy costs and development of alternative energy sources and technologies (coal, gas, renewables)
- Increasing globalisation of markets: competition, exchange rates, quality assurance and consumer preferences
- Industrial and agricultural innovation, for example water efficiency and re-use
- Increasing competition for land and water resources
- Increased use of market mechanisms for natural resources, for example offsets and water markets
- Population growth, increasing urbanisation
- Rural-urban disconnection
- Workforce mobility
- Impacts on affordability and community structures
- Information technologies: mobile, remote, real-time, integrated technologies
- Social media
- Local-global engagement on environmental issues
- Regulatory changes including green tape reduction and relaxation of environmental protections
- Climate change, particularly increased frequency of extreme weather events and associated disaster response demands and increased insurance costs
- Complex ecological responses to climate change
- Increasing impacts and risks to the natural resource base
- Big data, better modelling, forecasting
- Better access to data and information