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Vulnerability of the livestock industry in eastern Australia

Marshall, N. A., Taylor, B. M., Heyenga, S., Butler, D.
Sustainability science 2018 v.13 no.2 pp. 393-402
climate, climate change, data collection, livestock, livestock and meat industry, models, natural resources, planning, risk assessment, socioeconomics, sustainability science and engineering, Australia
Sustaining industries dependent on climate-sensitive natural resources will require strategy given likely future scenarios under climate change. Tools and frameworks to evaluate the vulnerability of agriculture will be key if a plan to minimise vulnerability and maximise resilience is to be created. We use a framework based on a modification of the well-established IPCC vulnerability model (Marshall and Smajgl 2013) to assess the vulnerability of the livestock industry in Eastern Australia to climate change. Using existing data-sets, we show how the framework can be used to holistically quantify and qualify the current and future exposure of the industry to climate-related events, the biophysical and social sensitivity and impacts likely to be experienced, and the current level of adaptive capacity within the context of the livestock industry in eastern Australia. Results suggest that whilst the industry is likely to be sensitive to changes brought about by climate change, it is not necessarily vulnerable if livestock producers can moderate impacts by enhancing their adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity is examined at the producer and industry level to understand the scope and potential for climate adaptation planning within the industry itself. We discuss six important challenges that the industry must face if it is to manage its vulnerability. Minimising vulnerability within the industry will require careful consideration of the likely ecological, biophysical and socio-economic impacts and an investment in adaptive capacity across scales.