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An area of contrasts – the River Murray is at the heart of the highly productive Riverland, while vast, semi-arid mallee wilderness lies to the north.

The Upper Murray is home to iconic limestone cliffs, biologically rich wetland and floodplain ecosystems, intensive, irrigated horticulture including vineyards, orchards and citrus groves, and river-based recreation and tourism. The mallee woodlands that cover a large part of this subregion are an important conservation asset.  

This page begins to explore the things people value about the landscapes, livelihoods and lifestyles of the Upper Murray subregion, what is driving change, and what needs to be worked on to ensure the values supported by natural resources persist for the future.

What makes this subregion special

Some of the features we value in Upper Murray that are supported by natural resources include:

  • Aboriginal cultural values
  • lifestyle values: rural-living, river shacks, water-based recreation, volunteering and strong community cohesion
  • natural beauty; river connection and landscape aesthetic, including the iconic River Murray cliffs
  • secure freshwater supplies from the River Murray for town supplies, domestic and industrial use
  • agricultural production from irrigated horticulture, dryland farming and floodplain grazing
  • tourism associated the River Murray  - camping, fishing and houseboating, and with European and Aboriginal history
  • biodiversity conservation including threatened species; contains large public and private conservation reserves.  

Drivers of change

The main drivers of change to natural resources identified in the Upper Murray are:

  • corporatisation of farms.
  • technology-driven change to labour
  • relatively low land values
  • climate change and variability
  • low internet connectivity - affecting access to information
  • high water costs
  • Federal and State water policies and water markets; basin-wide extraction and water sales
  • river regulation and operation
  • change in land tenure (lifestyle blocks, shacks, permanent residents increasing).

Impacts of climate change

Potential natural resource impacts of climate change projections in the Upper Murray include: 

  • reduced in-flows to river impacting water quality, availability and aquatic ecosystems
  • declining rainfall, higher temperatures and increase in frequency of heatwaves, affecting agricultural production, soil health and erosion risk
  • increased risk of wildfire, catastrophic biodiversity loss and weed invasion after fire
  • shifts in weed species' distributions.

 

What we need to work on

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