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Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot change for Arabunna people of Lake Eyre facing climate change

New research from the University of Adelaide has highlighted the challenges facing the Arabunna people in the north of south Australia who face increased temperatures and a drier climate with global warming that will impact their traditional culture and lifestyle. The traditional Arabunna lands include the Lake Eyre region and also cover the giant Roxby Downs BHP uranium mine.

There will be a doubling of days above 40 degrees celsius by the 2070s with increases of 5 degrees and more. Such change will effect the fragile desert ecosystems and greatly impact the availability of bush tucker and the wellbeing of sacred sites.

The Adelaide University research is looking at ways Arabunna people can adapt to these changes with plans being drawn up in consultation with traditional communities to maintain and reinforce the culture, but also the economic livelihoods and traditional bush sustenance.

Here is the media release in full below:

Urgent need for climate change adaptation in Lake Eyre region

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The first stage of University of Adelaide research released today shows that South Australia's Arabunna country, which includes Lake Eyre in the far north, is likely to get both drier and hotter in decades to come.

"Temperatures could increase up to four degrees Celsius in Arabunna country in the next century, threatening the survival of many plants and animals," says the author of the report, Dr John Tibby from the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Geography, Environment and Population.

"My report suggests that the climate may change in a series of 'jumps' rather than in a gradual manner, hence the need to make plans to adapt to this risk," Dr Tibby says.

"If the climate does change as predicted it will have major impacts on Arabunna country, its people and culture, meaning they will have to adapt to these changes," says Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray, lead researcher with the University of Adelaide's Arabunna Country Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change project.

"To work out how to adapt, a collaboration between traditional owners and university researchers has been established to identify culturally appropriate adaptation options, allowing both Indigenous and Western expertise to help inform the plan."

Mr Aaron Stuart, Chairman of the Arabunna Ularaka Association, says: "Arabunna people live in a vast area and we expect to find a wide range of climate change impacts, such as damage to culturally significant sites from an increase in bushfires and dust storms, and changes to rainfall could impact upon the supply of bush foods and medicines.

"This process will help my people identify risks to our country and culture whilst helping Western researchers learn from our experience of adapting to change over time," he says.

The initiative is funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and will help set standards for climate change adaptation plans that are relevant to Australia's Indigenous communities.

The full Arabunna Ularaka Association has travelled to Adelaide to take part in the formal launch of the research report, Climate Change Projections for Arabunna Population Centres.

The final report will be published in February 2013.

Related: Listen to an interview on ABC Radio Australia - Remote communities under climate change threat - 29 June 2012

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