The Queensland Drought Mitigation Centre
The key facilitator in the QDMC has been the Queensland Government, which recently announced the rural assistance and drought package totaling AUD$77.9 million over 5 years. This package includes the drought assistance package of AUD$44.9 million for 2016-2017 and the drought and climate adaptation program (DCAP), of which the QDMC is a key component, of AUD$3.5 million for 2016-2017. However, should rural and associated industry and community support be forthcoming during 2016-2017, then there is a high probability of the DCAP initiative being extended a further 4 years. The entire package comprises: the focused grazing best management program (BMP), which includes whole farm economic planning and incorporates components to help graziers (generally called producers in Australia) be better prepared for all risks, but including drought as a major component; government department research and development programs to help Queensland agriculture adapt to future climate scenarios; and the QDMC, which incorporates drought and climate research components, including research into named-peril agricultural insurance programs (details listed below).
The QDMC has three nodes, with the core component located in Toowoomba at the University of Southern Queensland within the International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (ICACS). The QDMC will be a center of excellence for research (including monitoring, prediction, and early warning), communication, and capacity-building in areas relating to the mitigation of the impacts of drought on agriculture and the wider community. The QDMC is bringing together and building on the internationally recognized expertise in seasonal climate forecasting, climate risk management, and decision-support systems that exists within ICACS and the state government departments of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and Science, Technology and Innovation (DSITI). Linkages and collaborations with national and international research and development agencies will be critical to ensure all new relevant science and systems research innovations, globally, are properly captured by the needs of QDMC and DCAP. These collaborative agencies may include the NDMC, the US national integrated drought information system, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (especially its research division in seasonal and decadal climate forecasting research), the UK Met Office (especially its Hadley Centre for Climate Research and its work on decadal prediction), the Australian CSIRO, key Queensland and Australian Universities, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, the WMO (especially its Technical Commission for Agricultural Meteorology and its associated IDMP and the key program areas in drought and food security), and, potentially, the Drought Management Centre for Southeastern Europe and the European Drought Centre.
In addition, the QDMC will provide a focus for attracting in-kind and cash investments in drought preparedness from participating agencies and research, development, and extension funders. In essence, the budget requested for the QDMC provides seed funding for additional investment by other key interested agencies, especially those closely connected to farmers, graziers, and agricultural industry.
The QDMC has the following approach to improving drought preparedness in farming systems based on the following principles:
- 1. Use of the latest advances in climate science and seasonal climate forecasting to provide an enhanced understanding of drought risk and drought mitigation options, as well as climate risk management more generally
- 2. A risk management approach that recognizes the short- and longterm production and financial risks induced by climatic variability, in particular drought
- 3. A focus on supporting the tactical and strategic decisions that farm business managers make across short- and long-term timeframes in managing their businesses
- 4. A recognition that making the most of good seasons is a key component of managing climatic variability and improving drought preparedness
In total, the QDMC's work program will initially comprise the projects shown in Table 24.1.