|Title||Visions of Tropical River Futures for Northern Australia, Coast 2 Coast Conference, Darwin 2008|
|Year of Publication||2008|
|Keywords||1: Scenario Evaluation|
Australia's tropical northern region is home to numerous large rivers with significant, but highly seasonal, water resources. This region of Australia has become the focus of calls to develop new agricultural enterprises most of which include a strong emphasis on irrigated agriculture. Protracted drought and water restrictions in southern Australia have increased this focus in recent years. However, there is widespread concern and apprehension that there is insufficient information to proceed with such developments in the north. Furthermore, northern communities are well aware of the mistakes of the past that have resulted in widespread ecological and social problems in the southern states of Australia. We are using a systems modelling approach to explore potential scenarios for the Daly River catchment in the Northern Territory Australia. This catchment study is part of the wider Tropical Rivers and Costal Knowledge (TRaCK) research program, and future studies will be conducted in the Mitchell River (Queensland) and the Fitzroy River (Western Australia). Similar approaches have been used internationally to explore trade-offs between improved livelihoods and the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. The project used participatory modelling techniques to engage multiple stakeholders, including Indigenous representatives from the Daly River region, to develop realistic scenarios for future management of the catchment. Scenarios included broad-scale clearing for pastoral activities, irrigated agricultural development and the associated issues of water allocation, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem function. We discuss the results of the modelling with particular reference to sustainable management of water resources, economic trajectories, and the aspirations of Indigenous people.