Tropical Savannas CRC > Research > Tropical Savannas CRC - CRC Research 2008-09 > Climate change response and adaptation

Climate change response and adaptation

Strongly contrasting community views of potential for agricultural development in northern Australia point to limited formal analysis of opportunities and constraints.

This project assembled information on land suitability, water availability, and potential incomes from agriculture in the high rainfall regions of the Northern Territory.

It identified areas apparently capable of supporting development, including irrigated agriculture, incomes that might be generated from such activity under realistic assumptions about variability in output, and developed a carbon budget that takes account of the emissions associated with land clearing.

The extent of potential development on lands of different tenure (including Aboriginal lands) was identified. The project did not constitute a full cost-benefit analysis and is best viewed as preliminary to more comprehensive studies that deal with the full array of potential benefits and costs of various forms of agriculture.

The proposal addressed issues in viable regional land management which were at the core of the CRC’s interests. Such analysis will contribute to regional planning and management options. The work was of national interest and will be useful for the Northern Task Force and associated assessments.

Project Objectives

  • assemble available data on land capability, vegetation pattern, water availability, agricultural options and incomes in the high rainfall (tropical savanna) regions of the Northern Territory in forms suitable for aggregation and analysis at different spatial scales (rainfall zones, catchments, region)
  • estimate land areas potentially subject to development by catchments and by land tenure
  • identify vegetation types affected by developments and estimate GHG emissions associated with land clearing, taking account of additional carbon storage or emissions associated with projected developments
  • estimate potential incomes available from areas identified as subject to development under various scenarios (e.g. using only best available land, assumptions about access to water etc).
  • analyse and summarise the above to identify areas warranting more comprehensive biophysical and economic analysis taking full account of carbon and other costs of development
  • develop proposals for more comprehensive analysis.


Dr David Garnett
Tropical Savannas CRC
Tel: 08 8946 7101

Fax: 08 8946 7107

Charles Darwin University