Over millennia, species have evolved to cope with changing climates. However, the current speed of climate change, and the fragmentation of many ecosystems, mean our native species may not have access to the genetic variants they need to keep up with the changing environment.
In a world set to be transformed by a changing climate, what can we do to ensure the natural areas we value make it through? What practical steps can we take to help as many species as possible adapt? That’s where Climate Future Plots come in.
Banner image: Revegetation in the Strzelecki Ranges. Photo credit Tobias Rowles.
Among environmental restoration circles, we’ve been aware of the need to help species adapt to a changing climate for years, particularly in connection with certain species. For example, Greening Australia has been involved with establishing trial plantings of the keystone species Eucalyptus viminalis, which is in decline across Australia. In the trials, we’ve planted seedlings from different climate regions in both Tasmania and the NSW Monaro to see how they’ll grow.
Climate Future Plots take this idea to the next level. The plots are areas of land that are revegetated or restored with a particular focus on including plant genetics from a mix of different climates for a range of different species. This means that, as the climate changes, whole plant communities will be better equipped to change with it.
The more Climate Future Plots being planted and monitored across the country, the more data we will have about how to help nature adapt. With this in mind, following the symposium, Greening Australia and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) worked with a range of organisations to develop a guide to creating Climate Future Plots so community groups and agencies could build their own.
Each plot will look a little different, depending on the climate projections for the location, the plant species and provenances chosen, and how the planting is configured. This is good – diversity is key to successful adaptation.
Benefits of Climate Future Plots
The idea behind Climate Future Plots is not new, but we need to put that idea into action to unlock the full potential of these plots to help our natural areas thrive.
The beauty of it is, that the basic principles can be taken and scaled to trial climate-ready plantings anywhere in Australia, or even the world, whether in a suburban backyard, over 1 hectare or across 100,000 hectares (we can dream).
That means you, your community group or organisation can take action to build our knowledge of how to help nature adapt to a changing climate, wherever you are. And you can help spread the impact by talking to your friends and colleagues about it, or sending them the link to this page.