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Overcoming drought vulnerability in rangeland communities: Lessons from central-western Queensland

Phelps, D. and Kelly, D. (2019) Overcoming drought vulnerability in rangeland communities: Lessons from central-western Queensland. Rangeland Journal, 4 (3). pp. 251-270. ISSN 10369872 (ISSN)

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ18052

Abstract

Drought and climate variability are an increasing global problem, especially in rangelands which may lack robust socioeconomic systems. Vulnerability is being applied in drought and climate change policy theory, by describing exposure and sensitivity factors, and adaptive capacity. In this paper we examine these vulnerability factors in central-western Queensland (CWQ), Australia, as a case study to test the idea that vulnerability and resilience must be considered together to build strong and enduring rangeland communities. The region's economy and employment are strongly coupled with rain-fed agriculture. Drought is a key risk to CWQ communities, with 13 extended droughts recorded since 1898. The region has been officially in drought since 2013 following well below-average rainfall, and remains in drought in 2019. The impact has led to reductions in town business turnover of 30-60%, loss of livelihoods and outmigration of 20%. Outmigration corresponds to the recent periods of drought. Social networks have been destabilised, highlighting that the cascading impacts of drought are complex, interrelated and affect the whole community. Regionally led responses have helped to re-build social cohesion, provide mental health support and stimulate economic activity and employment. These actions provide examples of a systemic, whole-of-community approach, that (1) captures place-based advantages (2) enhances internal and external socioeconomic networks (3) engages meaningfully through multi-level consultation and (4) seeks to build sustained financial investment. A common theme of success is partnerships which provide external support for regionally-identified issues and solutions. There has been considerable investment of public, philanthropic and private funds in drought relief and infrastructure programs. This has occurred through a whole-of-community approach, and suggests a move towards policy which aims to build long-term regional resilience. CWQ has linked vulnerability and resilience by asking of both internally and externally led drought relief 'will this action build or undermine community resilience'. This approach could also be applied to the design of drought policies and responses in other rangeland regions. © 2019 Australian Rangeland Society.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:adaptation pastoralist regional policy resilience rural communities small business
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural meteorology. Crops and climate
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural conservation
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Deposited On:28 Apr 2020 02:13
Last Modified:28 Apr 2020 02:13

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