The Wimmera has historically experienced fluctuations in rainfall, with long periods of drought, huge floods and everything in between. Climate change predictions suggest that we may experience drier winters, wetter summers and more extreme weather events. This may have implications for water availability for our waterways. Waterways, in particular wetlands, have a huge ability to store carbon if managed correctly. Given the Wimmera contains 25 percent of Victoria’s wetlands; there is great potential for the Wimmera to protect waterways as a climate change mitigation activity by capturing carbon. The challenge will be to continue to manage these areas so they can remain resilient and adapt to climate change.
Waterways are important in cycling of carbon. Waterways cover about one twelfth of the Earth’s area yet contain approximately one third of the world’s terrestrial carbon. Clearing and drainage of waterways can lead to large losses of stored organic carbon to atmospheric carbon dioxide. As a result the importance of waterways in carbon sequestration and storage is significant. The Wimmera has the highest concentration of waterways in Victoria. This provides great opportunities to better protect waterways for carbon storing benefits as well as biodiversity and farm productivity through a broader range of funding opportunities. While there has been a significant amount of research into carbon and marine ecosystems the same cannot be said for terrestrial waterways. There is some uncertainty about the best waterways for carbon capture and storage and management techniques to maximise it. It is believed that rivers and streams do not have the same ability to store carbon as wetlands, however the vegetation both in stream and in riparian areas has significant potential to store large volumes of carbon.