An assessment of the vulnerability of Australian forests to the impacts of climate change: III Socio-economic implications of climate change with regard to forests and forest management

Cockfield, Geoff and Maraseni, Tek and Buys, Laurie and Sommerfeld, Jeffrey and Wilson, Clevo and Athukorala, Wasantha (2010) An assessment of the vulnerability of Australian forests to the impacts of climate change: III Socio-economic implications of climate change with regard to forests and forest management. Technical Report. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), Gold Coast, Australia.

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Abstract

The assessment of the vulnerability of Australian forests to climate change is an initiative of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC). The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) was approached to carry out such a comprehensive Forest Vulnerability Assessment (FVA). NCCARF engaged four research groups to investigate distinct aspects in relation to the vulnerability of forests, each of which has produced a report. In addition a fifth group was engaged to create a summary and synthesis report of the project. This report – Socio-economic implications of climate change with regard to forests and forest management - is the third in the series. Through a review of literature this part of the FVA project was established to identify the potential socio-economic impacts of climate change and develop a framework for thinking about coordinated responses to socially and economically adverse outcomes. This report is based predominantly on a literature review of relevant economic, social and policy studies. In addition some original work was carried out on: • the development of a model of plantation decision-making under climate change; and • a small-scale survey of respondents in two towns in timber growing regions with a good mix of forest types (Bombala in the Eden/Gippsland region; and Scottsdale in north-eastern Tasmania) to determine their response to climate change. The report is organised according to a cause and responses logic, starting with the underlying cause (climate change), through the identification of the effects as problems that should or might be addressed, to the potential planned responses by state agencies and organised stakeholders, with some final consideration of engaging with the broader community. The report concludes with recommendations in regard to adaptation and future research.The potential direct social and economic impacts resulting from biophysical impacts of climate change considered in this review include changes in: • the production of timber, pulp and fuel and the locations of production; changes in the ranges of tree and other forest-utilising species; • the intrinsic value of habitat quality and viability; • the appearance, and therefore human perceptions, of some forests; • carbon sequestration rates; • the impact that trees have on soil salinity control; and • water filtration services provided by forests. The socio-economic impact of changes in the intrinsic value of habitats also needs to be considered because it can be assumed that changes in the value of natural capital, even in the absence of direct use by humans, has significant social impacts. The flow-on impacts of these primary effects include: • growth in some forest-based communities and accelerated decline in others because of changes in output and therefore regional income and the cumulative effect of relocation and re-establishment decisions; • some change in the aesthetic pleasure and spiritual comfort from particular forests; • possible changes in tourism preferences due to changes in forest appearance,composition and habitat quality; and • increased competition between farmers,rural ‘lifestylers’ and forest managers for land in higher rainfall areas which could drive land prices up. Apart from changes in regional climates and land costs, policy decisions that directly influence demand for forest-based products and sequestration will significantly influence forest/plantation establishment decisions. Incentives to establish sinks have the potential to increase the area of national conservation and production forest estates, thereby offsetting some of the adverse socio-economic impacts that flow directly from climate change. However, there are social concerns with the reforestation of some landscapes. Given the uncertainty about the extent of the impacts of climate change and the trajectory of consequences, facilitating adaptive forest management is best approached, initially at least, by adapting existing institutional arrangements and previous approaches to major resource management issues. The broad recommendations in relation to policy include: o Building on the experience and lessons from the Regional Forests Agreements process, especially in relation to the use of multi-criteria types of assessment, to consider ecological, economic and social considerations in landscape planning, and the development of structural adjustment packages for regions and communities; o Building on experience in the development of planning concepts and natural resources management (NRM) policy instruments to facilitate the movement, and therefore adaptation, of species. This would include the concept of biolinks, or connections across the landscape which could be developed through: voluntary covenants (established as contributions or for-profit agreements and applying to individuals, families or groups of landholders); the creation of specific tenures, such as that for Indigenous Protected Areas; regulations in relation to vegetation on private land; and government purchasing of land to complete biolinks and to create particular reserves. Nonetheless, some changes in forest location, viability and appearance are unavoidable and we do not see that governments and forest managers can address all issues, implying that there will need to be autonomous adaptation. It is a critical cultural question as to whether people can accept, re-engage with, and perhaps even re-imagine our landscapes. It is here that social research and engagement are important. The survey of two forest-dependent communities found that there is much to be done to engage people with the need for adaptation, especially where they are dealing with other structural change. There is underlying scepticism about the nature and extent of climate change, or at the very least, uncertainty about the local and personal impacts of that change.


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Item Type: Report (Technical Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © University of Southern Qld, Queensland University of Technology, 2010.
Depositing User: Dr Tek Narayan Maraseni
Faculty / Department / School: Current - USQ Other
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2011 02:56
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2014 05:41
Uncontrolled Keywords: forest vulnerability; climate change impacts
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140205 Environment and Resource Economics
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0705 Forestry Sciences > 070504 Forestry Management and Environment
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/18773

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