The Federal Government has released the Caring for our Australian Alps Catchments summery report. Designed as a technical assessment report for policy makers, the report details a number of key findings for the future of the catchments that run off the Australian Alps.


The report values the 9,600 gigalitres that run off the alps to the Murray-Darling basin at a possible $9.6 billion for the Australian economy through contributions to agricultural productions and other industries, such as electricity generation, recreation and tourism in the Alps region.


However, it warns of the risk posed by climate change to the area's continued economic and environmental benefits.


“The catchments were found to be highly vulnerable to projected climate change impacts and the potential for future severe erosion was of special concern. The assessment identified that 60% of 235 sub-catchments across 1.64 million hectares of Alps parks were in a poor or moderate (natural) condition and 76% were in a declining or notrend-change condition,” the report found.


The report details the expected changes to the region in the event of projected climate changes occurring, including:

  • 24 per cent reduction in precipitation
  • An average temperate rise of potentially up to 2.9 degrees
  • More doughts
  • More frequent severe fire events
  • More severe storms

“Climate change for the greater south-eastern Australia is also predicted to be drier in 2050. The Alps water is valuable in 2010, but every gigalitre flowing from the Alps catchments to the Murray-Darling Basin will become more important in the future,” the report concluded.


The report finds that catchments will need strong and active management in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change, saying that a solid policy framework will prevent declining water quality in the area.


The Caring for our Australian Alps Catchments Technical Report provides key messages and policy recommendations:

  • Water from the Alps catchments is of national economic importance;
  • The natural (good) condition of the catchments helps deliver high quality and reliable water yield;
  • Climate change is impacting the natural condition of the Alps catchments;
  • The 2010 catchment condition assessment found the Alps catchments to be especially vulnerable to the predicted effects of climate change and there was an urgency for adequately resourced management responses to be implemented;
  • Management interventions (Priority Actions) are needed to respond to severe and immediate threats, to restore and maintain natural condition and to optimise water yield, maximise water quality and maintain natural flow regimes in a climate change environment;
  • Whole-of-Alps large-scale adaptative management responses to climate change would significantly benefit the national economy.


The report concludes that new and improved policy responses are required to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and other threats to the natural condition of the Australian Alps catchments. It suggests strong, active policy frameworks to include the protection and enhancement of water yield through weed removal and Snow-gum restoration, the protection of water quality by removing threats and mjnimising soil erosion.


The report concludes that investment in climate change adaptation in the area will have a strong benefit for the national and local economy and will provide invaluable assistance in conserving Australia’s National Heritage listed alpine areas.


The full report can be found here