Influencing adaptation processes on the Australian rangelands for social and ecological resilience
Nadine A. Marshall, CSIRO, Ecosystem Sciences and Climate Adaptation Flagship;
School of Earth and Environment Sciences, James Cook University
Chris J. Stokes, CSIRO, Ecosystem Sciences and Climate Adaptation Flagship
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Resource users require the capacity to cope and adapt to climate changes affecting resource condition if they, and their industries, are to remain viable. Understanding individual-scale responses to a changing climate will be an important component of designing well-targeted, broad-scale strategies and policies. Because of the interdependencies between people and ecosystems, understanding and supporting resilience of resource-dependent people may be as important an aspect of effective resource management as managing the resilience of ecological components. We refer to the northern Australian rangelands as an example of a system that is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and look for ways to enhance the resilience of the system. Vulnerability of the social system comprises elements of adaptive capacity and sensitivity to change (resource dependency) as well as exposure, which is not examined here. We assessed the adaptive capacity of 240 cattle producers, using four established dimensions, and investigated the association between adaptive capacity and climate sensitivity (or resource dependency) as measured through 14 established dimensions. We found that occupational identity, employability, networks, strategic approach, environmental awareness, dynamic resource use, and use of technology were all positively correlated with at least one dimension of adaptive capacity and that place attachment was negatively correlated with adaptive capacity. These results suggest that adaptation processes could be influenced by focusing on adaptive capacity and these aspects of climate sensitivity. Managing the resilience of individuals is critical to processes of adaptation at higher levels and needs greater attention if adaptation processes are to be shaped and influenced.
adaptive capacity; livestock industry; networks; primary resource industry; resource dependency; social resilience; vulnerability