Kakadu Case Study


Kakadu Case Study

Kakadu National Park

Case study

An area “at risk” from climate

change impacts

Location: Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Located in the wet-dry tropics of northern


Kakadu National Park located 253 km east of


Encompasses 19,804 km2 within the Alligator

Rivers Region of the Northern Territory of


Kakadu has World Heritage status; listed as

Ramsar site and a National Heritage area


The name 'Kakadu' from Aboriginal floodplain language


Kakadu National Park managed jointly by Aboriginal

traditional owners and Director of National Parks.

Inhabited continuously by Aboriginal i traditional owners

for more than 50,000 years.

Region's cave paintings, rock carvings and

archaeological sites record skills and way of life, from

prehistoric times to Aboriginal people live in the park

today. Now only about 500 Aboriginal people living in


Unique mosaic of ecosystems - tidal flats, floodplains,

lowlands and plateaus

Biodiversity includes wide range of rare or endemic

plants and animals.

Unique biodiversity


Twin Falls - tourism

Recreational fishing

Cultural anthropological significance

Bush Tucker – Traditional owners

Local economy


• Tourism

• Approximately 230,000 people visit the Kakadu National Park per year,

contribution tib ti of fKNP - $15 million

• Small-business

– mostly associated with servicing tourist market and

supporting mining employees - Jabiru

• Mining - Uranium deposits within the river catchment, approximately

14,500 tonnes valued at $5 billion - extraction has not commenced. No

aboriginal people have been employed at any mining operations in


Regional economy

• Tourism - generates approximately $100 - $120 million per annum to

the regional economy (direct and flow-on on effect)

• Goods and services primarily sourced from outside the Park

Potential impacts of climate change to


Limited / loss of access

• For tourism, mining, maintenance of infrastructure, etc

Decrease in tourism

• Loss of freshwater wetlands & icon species

• Visitor safety

• World Heritage status

Decrease in jobs (including seasonal jobs)

Decrease in provision of regional goods

and services

Damage to infrastructure

• E.g. for tourism, park management, mining

Computer Modelling undertaken

Specific Models for these locations

• Freshwater catchment

Influenced by rainfall / runoff only

• Tidal Interface

Influenced by both rainfall / runoff and sea level rise

• Floodplain

Influenced by both rainfall / runoff and sea level rise

• Lower estuary

Influenced by sea level rise

Impacts - Rainfall

Complex rainfall +/-

• +/- 10% by 2030 to +/- 20% by 2070

• Runoff and sediment supply proportional

• Data reduced to number of days wet and dry for risk analysis

Increased flows and velocities

• Increased channel width / velocity

• Increased inception of dendritic channels

• But decreased length of dry season may impact veg/soils

Decreased flows and velocities

• Decreased channel width / velocity

• Decreased inception of dendritic channels

• But increased length of dry season may impact veg/soils

Impacts – Sea Level Rise (SLR)


• SLR is transmitted to tidal interface

• Lower estuary contained in channel

• Floodplain level set at 5mAHD from GA data

Increased tidal pressure

• SLR => 143mm by 2030 to 700mm by 2070 (on top of 6m tide +)

• Storm surge increase ~ 0.15m

Increased levee overtopping 60% by 2030

and 400% by 2070

Increased saline intrusion on floodplain

• Levee overtopping

• Dendritic channel threat to billabongs

Increased tidal flows and velocities

– increased channel cross section

– pressure on tidal head



Health and Safety


Adaptation options

Promote new tourism at existing sites

Open new sites

Replicate sites and/or create ‘Living Museum’

Maintain access to priority sites

Maintain infrastructure at priority sites

Manage crocodile numbers and minimise human contact

Maintain World Heritage listing

Rehabilitate past mining facilities

Upgrade infrastructure for proposed mines

Prevent introduction of tropical diseases

Develop incidence response plan

Upgrade safety communication

Educate visitors and residents and businesses

Manage extractive uses for the Park

Manage key ecological sites to build resilience

Structural protection of priority sites

Transport and Communication

Develop alternative forms of transport into and within Park

Construct all weather road access

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