Salinity - effects and management
The way forward to managing salinity in the Glenelg Hopkins region is a united approach.
The Glenelg Hopkins region abounds in natural wealth. Our productive soils, rainfall and unique natural attractions combine to support a range of industries which attract diverse communities through economic prosperity and opportunities for lifestyle choice.
The economic, environmental and social values which attract communities and support our region are threatened by processes degrading our natural resource base, including one of the most serious problems - salinty. Salinity currently costs us $44.3 million a year and affects more than 27,000 hectares of land in the region with significant impacts on our agricultural land, enviornmental, heritage and infrastructure assets.
Although we have recognised the threat and acted to reverse the trend, salinity continues to expand and degrade these assets.
Salinity is not new in the region. In fact, some areas were naturally saline prior to European settlement. But since settlement there has been significant land use change, including clearing for agricultural development, which has caused the area affected by salinity to expand.
Special salinity management programs first began in the 1970s, but it was not until 1994 that the Glenelg Region Salinity Strategy was released. This strategy was the first concerted effort by community and government to tackle the salinity problem and the first regional salinity strategy.
Ten years on we have learnt a great deal about salinity management, the processes that control it and the opportunities to negate or reduce its impact.
Salinity Plan 2005 - 2008
The Glenelg Hopkins Salinity Plan 2005-2008 incorporates the knowledge gathered since 1994 and outlines the way forward to manage salinity in the Glenelg Hopkins region.
In addition to direct benefits in terms of salinity control, the plan also offers multiple benefits to other regional land, water and vegetation programs. Integration is achieved through the Glenelg Hopkins Regional Catchment Strategy, which provides the overarching direction for natural resource management in the region.
The Glenelg Hopkins Salinity Plan has been developed in line with improved knowledge of salinity processess and management options. The Salinity Plan also represents the communities' response to the regional salinity challenge and incorporates the local communities' intimate knowledge of the impacts and the social, economic and environmental benefits of salinity control.
Salinity in our region
- Current annual cost $44.3 million
- 27,472 hectares of agricultural land affected
- 144,500 hectares affected by high-water tables
- 32 Victorian fauna and 14 flora species threatened
- 1892 kilometres of streams affected
- 10 towns and 453 sealed roads affected
- 1954 bridges, 60 kilometres railway line affected
Predicted extent of salinity by 2050
- Annual cost $63.36 million in 2030
- Threatened fauna species will increase from 32 to 64, with eight endangered
- Threatened flora species will increase from 13 to 56, with 14 endangered
- 7598 kilometres of streams affected - a four-fold increase
- 29 per cent of wetlands affected
- Six-fold increase in length of road affected
The Salinity Plan identifies actions in five programs that contribute to achieving our management action, resource condition and aspirational targets.
Land Management Program
Implementation of recharge and discharge management options and engineering (eg: fencing and revegetation)
Capacity Building Program
Promotion within the community of the understanding and awareness of the process of salinity management and the resources available to implement management programs.
Assessment of the progression toward achievement of targets.
Implementation of salinity programs wihin an integrated catchment management framework.
The Regional Catchment Strategy, developed by Glenelg Hopkins CMA, provides the framework for integrated catchment management within the region and is the mechanism through which salinity control activities are integrated with other land management issues.
The Land and Biodiversity Implementation Committee of Glenelg Hopkins CMA is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Salinity Plan.
Actions identified in the plan will be implemented through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders including industry, community, government agencies and tertiary education institutions.
The Salinity Plan has been developed through a Salinity Technical Committee with a sub-committee of the Land and Biodiversity Implementation Committee of Glenelg Hopkins CMA.
- In addition to the consultation provided by existing CMA structures, the following consultation actions were undertaken:
- Recognition by the Land and Biodiversity Implementation Committee that the original Glenelg Regional Salinity Strategy was developed with extensive regional community participation and consultation;
- A review of the original Glenelg Region Salinity Strategy, which sought feedback from regional stakeholders who provided input for the development of this second-generation Salinity Plan;
- A survey of more than 600 regional residents in early 2002, which established community values related to salinity, waterways and biodiversity;
- Submissions of relevant information during development of the draft Salinity Plan from key stakeholders not represented through existing CMA structures and advice to stakeholders regarding the opportunity to comment on the plan during the public consultation phase;
- Promotion through the local media of plan development and opportunities for input;
- Establishment of a process for communication and public consultation regarding the draft plan in the Glenelg Hopkins region.