Daniel R. Williams, Rocky Mountain Research StationCarina Wyborn and Laurie Yung, University of MontanaDaniel J. Murphy, University of CincinnatiIterative Scenario-Building toUnderstand Social-EcologicalVulnerability and Adaptive Capacity inRural Communities
Presentation Overview Geographic and sectored scope of vulnerability/adaptation research in the north central region. Primary climate-related research questions or focus. Approach/frameworks/methods/tools we are using inthis research. Initial impressions of pros/cons and lessons learnedfrom approach.
Forest Service Social VulnerabilityResearch Initiative (April 2013)• Scope: National in Theory; Case based inPractice (MT; CO)• Focus: Forest Service Research Leadershipsought coordination across FS Researchstations to:– Develop framework(s) to identifypopulations most vulnerable to climatechange impacts– Assess social vulnerability indices thatcan be applied at multiple scales– Examine resources, tools, andstrategies to improve adaptive capacityof socially vulnerable populations
National Approach: ProblemAssessment Workshop (Nov. 2011) Discussed State of KnowledgeLiterature Review Identified three tasks going forward: Advance State of Knowledge: improve assessment protocols bring community perspectives intoresearch Integrate social and ecologicalperspectives Science application: NFScorecard Vulnerability case studies Communications, Outreach &Coordination
(Re)conceptualizing Vulnerability Rich body of social science research on social side ofvulnerability (e.g., hazards, political ecology) From the “event” orientation of the hazards approachtoward a model of ongoing change From vulnerability as inherent to certain groups (e.g.poor populations, racial minorities, etc.) to vulnerabilityas emerging from a specific context From envisioning human communities as passivevictims to understanding them as active agents
Approach: ComparativeCase Studies Big Hole Valley, MT Grand County, CO Wayne National Forest, OH Gudbrandsdal Valley, Norway Others? (some in NC Region)
Multi-scaled Iterative ScenarioBuilding ApproachLandscape/community case studiesto understand vulnerability andadaptive capacity in contextScenarios to address uncertainty20-year time horizon to provide atimeframe workable for planning
Multi-scaled, iterativescenario-building (MISB) Combines MethodologicalElements from various models: Dose-response Scenarios Agent-based modeling Case studies Participatory methods
Initial Scenarios Team of natural scientists utilized historicinformation, downscaled models, and current trends andconditions to produce scenarios of possible futures for theUpper Big Hole Big Hole Scenarios (looking approx. 20 years out) “Some like it hot” Severe drought with low late summer flows “The seasons, they are a‟ changin‟” Shorter, milder winters, higher precipitation in a variety of forms “Feast or famine” Marked variability, including some years with warm winders anddeep drought years and some years with long, cold winters andcool summers
Collecting and AnalyzingSocial Data Interviews and focus groups with ranchers, smallbusiness-owners, fishing and huntingoutfitters, and agency and NGO staff. Scenarios used to engage study participants inthinking about possible futures, and the specificvulnerabilities generated by those futures. Also used to understand potential responses(e.g. adaptive actions) as well as existing andrequired capacities.
The Iterative Process Scenarios then rewritten to integrate likelyresponses to possible futures and theirecological consequences. New scenarios used to engage focus groups toexamine and evaluate possible responses,obstacles to effective adaptation, and thecapacities needed in the future. A final focus group looked at a community andlandscape scale to consider how people andagencies might work together to respond tochange.
Big Hole, MT: Water, Hay andthe Price of Beef Scenario 1 – Rancherswith junior rights mostvulnerable Scenario 2 – Increasedwater storage capacityto weather late summerdrought Scenario 3 – Difficult tosustain hay productiondue to uncertainties; toovariable to plan for* Big Hole Valley
Grand County, CO High amenity landscape –summer and winterrecreation Diverse land tenures; high2nd home ownership „epicentre‟ of MPB outbreakwater diversions Challenges to conceptualizing“adaptation” Water diversions trump CC “we‟ll just adapt” Lots of existing actions thatcould be classified asadaptation but are being donefor other economic
Lessons: Pros Engages climate “skeptics” in thinking about andplanning for adaptation Inspires adaptation planning (thinking ahead) evenin the context of uncertainty Captures tensions between different groups anddifferent adaptation paths Shifts focus from past vulnerabilities to futurevulnerabilities and adaptive capacities, in context
Lessons: Challenges Impacts to human communities were considered quitebleak. Year to year variability (scenario 3) was especiallydifficult to adapt to. Need to figure out how to move the scenario exercisesinto real planning and decision-making.