Williams nccsc adaption workshop

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  • Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the first Adaptation Forum. One of the central areas of FS climate change research involves social vulnerability and the adaptive capacities and strategies for dealing with climate change induced landscape change. I am one of several research social scientists within the FS conducting research on how to facilitate climate change adaptation in western landscapes. The research team for this project includes an anthropologist, a political scientist, a human ecologist with inputs from a terrestrial ecosystem ecologist, a landscape ecologist, an aquatic ecologist, and a hydrologist. What I plan to present today is some preliminary work on building and testing a method for understanding vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and anticipated adaptation actions that we call Iterative Scenario Building.
  • Our strategy involves multiple study sites/case studies to determine broader patterns of vulnerability and adaptive capacity across the west and understand community decision-making and adaptationunder uncertainty.Work is ongoing with Carina Wyborn doing field work in Grand County this past 2-3 weeks. With Dan Murphy (now located at U. Cincinnati) we are taking our initial lessons from the Big Hole and working with directly with the Wayne NF in Ohio on an “application” / demonstration project to see how we can apply iterative, collaborative scenario building to national forest management. I have some colleagues at NINA doing a case study with landowners in the Gudbrandsdalen Near Lillehammer, Norway.We also propose and/or are seeking funding to extend our work in some other landscape/social/community types around the Western states.
  • To try to better understand contextual vulnerability, we developed a new method called iterative scenario building.
  • Why these?Needed to be iterative and dynamic in order to reflect real social interaction in learning, conflict/disputes, and other tensions/frictions emerge through repeated engagement with others. It needed to be emergent and reflect a sense of path dependency – i.e. that the future is constructed but also that choices can limit future choices or at a least create additional costs/frictionsIt needed to reflect actual threats at a landscape scale and in pervasive waysIt needed to reflect local perceptions, ideas, and responses in order to more closely approximate the conditions of contextIt needed to reflect a degree of uncertainty so that participants have space to imagine, worry, and respond in equally uncertain ways
  • A UMT team of natural scientists, in collaboration with a hydrologist from NCAR, created scenarios of possible futures for the upper Big Hole. They used historic information about the area, downscaled climate models, and data on current trends and conditions – all specific to this landscape - as well as just current scientific thinking about western landscapes more broadly to produce the scenarios. The scenarios are 20 years out, which allows for the possibility of considerable change, but at a temporal scale that is within reach of landowners and human communities. It’s close enough to imagine how it would impact you and your family. We produced three qualitative narrative scenarios (approx. 400 words each) todescribe these possible futures, using lay language as opposed to scientific jargon. These scenarios started with changes to temperature and precipitation but really focused on what those changes might mean for physical and ecological processes and important species and resources – changes to forests, rangelands, and aquatic systems. These are a lot like the scenarios used in scenario planning exercises. Some like it hot -- Widespread drought – warming winters, lower snowpack, earlier snowmelt, longer summer, lower late summer streamflow, deeper drought, longer fire season, stressed fishThe seasons they are a changing -- Warmer but wetter winter and spring with deep summer drought and BIG FIRESFeast or famine -- Year-to-year variability: some years with deep winters and cool summers and others with warm winters and deep drought, Flash floods are common, big fires every few years
  • We then used these scenarios in a series of interviews and focus groups as a way to get people to think about and talk about vulnerability, adaptation, and adaptive capacity. We interviewed people who live and work in the Big Hole, people who are experts on the community there, who can describe how landscape-scale changes might effect local communities, businesses, and landowners. We focused on 4 specific constituencies: 1) ranchers, 2) small business-owners and community members, 3) fishing and hunting outfitters, and 4) agency representatives and NGOs. We utilize interviews because it allows us to understand social processes in-depth and to understand relationships between landscape-scale changes and specific vulnerabilities, possible adaptation actions, and existing and required adaptive capacities. In the first round of interviews we asked people to talk about Threats and impacts – how these different possible futures might impact them individually as well as their communityWho might be affected and whyHow they anticipate respondingWhat they would need to effectively respond, in terms of resources, information, networks
  • After the first round of interviews, the lead social scientist rapidly analyzed the interviews and brought the results back to the full team. The natural scientists were then able to integrate the ecological consequences of likely responses into a revised set of scenarios. In other words, the second set of scenarios included the responses of the human communities and the ways those responses might impact the ecosystem. Here we were trying to create a real-world model, based on how people told us they would respond and the likely consequences of those actions, of interactions in the social-ecological system.
  • Here, we explicitly focus on ‘community’ – which of course we allow participants to define in a multitude of ways. The purpose of the multiple rounds is to allow for multiple, unencumbered voices. Most scenario-building exercises in the literature involved a single meeting with a diverse representation – however, we could not have captured the data we did if we had allowed this. Allowing for multiple scales and venues, from individual interviews to progressively larger focus groups. We also got to see what voices disappeared in the group interactions. The repeated rounds allow for people to respond to the actions and responses that others have proposed. Additionally, they can see the ecological implications and other impacts of their proposed actions. This introduces some feedback and path dependency into the process. We also presented 3 different scenarios in order to maintain a sense of uncertainty about what might happen.
  • In scenario 1 the threat might be decreased snowpack and earlier snowmelt, which would mean lower streamflow in the late summer, compromising hay production. Ranchers with junior water rights would be most vulnerable. In the short term, ranchers would respond by utilizing hay reserves, while over the long term smaller ranchers and those with junior rights might sell out resulting in consolidation or subdivision. Fewer families in the valley would impact local businesses, tourism, and schools. Further, if rangeland productivity dropped, grazing allotments on Forest Service land might be curtailed to limit overgrazing, putting similar pressure on small ranches. If the price of beef were high enough, ranchers might be able to reduce stocking rates and rent pasture elsewhere to stay in business. In scenario 2, ranchers say opportunities for water storage development to capture moisture from wetter winters and springs. Increased water storage capacity could help ranchers weather late summer drought. They also described the political and policy constraints to water storage projects and the need to overcome these barriers to take advantage of this opportunity and might benefit downstream water users. In scenario 3, ranchers had a difficult time sustaining hay production due to the uncertainty of future precipitation patterns. It was simply too variable to plan for. Illustrates how ecological and social factors at a variety of scales co-produce vulnerability. The price of beef is governed by the global marketplace, but affects local vulnerability to climate change impacts. Also, helps understand specifically which groups are vulnerable, smaller ranches are much more vulnerable to the local impacts of climate change as compared to larger ranches. In all cases, effective “intimate” relationships with federal agency staff were believed to be important to adaptive capacity.
  • I work primarily in Western landscapes with rural communities, and a mix of public and private lands. These landscapes are important ecologically – they typically encompass a considerable elevation gradient, from high elevation wilderness areas to low level, productive, biologically-diverse valley bottoms and riparian areas. They’re also important socially and economically, as they produce important food and fiber, and contain long-established human communities. This is a scale at which a lot of adaptation occurs. Communities might draw on non-local resources to adapt to climate change, but a lot of adaptation happens at the scale of communities, individual ranches, counties, and watersheds. There’s a growing body of literature that suggests that anticipatory adaptation, adaptation that anticipates future change, may be more effective than waiting until climate change impacts are fully underway. Anticipatory adaptation is believed to be less expensive, more equitable, and allows communities to thoughtfully plan rather than urgently react. But to effectively adapt, these communities need to (1) understand and anticipate local change and (2) marshall the social, political, and economic resources to act
  • Interestingly, the scenarios provided an effective way to discuss climate change with skeptics (and skepticism appears to be widespread in the rural west – in fact, most community members were either skeptics or outright deniers). The scenario process seemed to depoliticize climate change in a sense. Community members were quick to realize that we were talking about climate change (despite the fact that we didn’t introduce the study with that term) but that we were not discussing the national or international politics of mitigation. Instead we were focusing on specific changes to local communities and landscapes. The downscaled, highly localized scenario descriptions permitted discussions that would not have occurred if we had raised climate change writ large. Many of the bio-physical changes described in the scenarios resonated with changes that are already experiencing.
  • I work primarily in Western landscapes with rural communities, and a mix of public and private lands. These landscapes are important ecologically – they typically encompass a considerable elevation gradient, from high elevation wilderness areas to low level, productive, biologically-diverse valley bottoms and riparian areas. They’re also important socially and economically, as they produce important food and fiber, and contain long-established human communities. This is a scale at which a lot of adaptation occurs. Communities might draw on non-local resources to adapt to climate change, but a lot of adaptation happens at the scale of communities, individual ranches, counties, and watersheds. There’s a growing body of literature that suggests that anticipatory adaptation, adaptation that anticipates future change, may be more effective than waiting until climate change impacts are fully underway. Anticipatory adaptation is believed to be less expensive, more equitable, and allows communities to thoughtfully plan rather than urgently react. But to effectively adapt, these communities need to (1) understand and anticipate local change and (2) marshall the social, political, and economic resources to act

Transcript

  • 1. 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
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. 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
  • 4. 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
  • 5. Vulnerability Research FrameworksFramework Focus Goal Concepts Pros ConsOutcomeOrientedImpacts ofobjectivethreats ondiscreteexposure unitsDemonstratecausal relationbetween hazardand lossNot applicable Targeted,narrow,discretevariablesExisting dataMisses social& politicaldynamicsContext-OrientedSpatial andtemporalscales thatproduceconstraints andopportunitiesDemonstrate thecomplexity ofvulnerability andadaptationPolitical economy(institutions etc)Moral economy(values etc.)Better reflectsrealityBroader visionof drivers ofchangeLack of agencyLack ofscalabilityOverly specificSystems-OrientedExposure andresilience ofrelationshipsthat make upsystemsIdentifyfunctionalrelationships anddynamicresponse tochangeCoupled human-natural systems withfeedback & linksResilience (avertingchange) Thresholds(transformativeChange)Focuses onrelationshipsConcernedwithtransformativechangeToo abstractTermsundefinedActor-OrientedExposure Unitsand courses ofactionIdentifyconstraints andopportunities forspecific actors &decisionsRational choicefocused on decisionmakingRelational approachfocuses on contextCombinescontext andoutcomeorientationMore Scalable,Overly specificMissesstructuraldynamics
  • 6. Outcome vs. Contextual VulnerabilityO‟Brien et al. 2009
  • 7. ResearchDesign andMethodsDose-Response(outcome)Indices &Indicators(outcome)Mapping(outcome)Agent-BasedModeling(outcome,actor &systems)ScenarioBuilding(outcome &context)Case Study(actor, context,systems)Elements Vulnerabilityassessed withquantitativelymeasuredimpactsCreate indexweighted usingexpertknowledgeSpatial analysisof quantitativedata (e.g.proximity tohazards &distribution oflosses)Simulation ofadaptation byexposure unitsusing simplebehavioralrulesClimatechange modelsused togenerate“what if”scenariosEmpirically traceout drivers andsocial processesbased on fieldobservationPros Targeted,simple, costeffectiveGood fortargetingefforts.Scalable, dataavailability, costeffectiveVisual, spatialfacilitatestargetingCan bepredictive, costeffective, andcapturecomplexityParticipatory,helpscommunitywork throughproblemsHighly detailed,complexCons Extrapolationfrom pastevents, ignoressocialdynamicsSeriousmeasurementissues,questionableassumptionsLimitedanalysis,mostly datapresentationtechniqueAccuracyunknown,scale issuesHighly specific,scenarios maybe inaccurateHigh costSite and/or casespecificResearch Designs & Methodologies
  • 8. (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
  • 9. Approach: ComparativeCase Studies Big Hole Valley, MT Grand County, CO Wayne National Forest, OH Gudbrandsdal Valley, Norway Others? (some in NC Region)
  • 10. Multi-scaled Iterative ScenarioBuilding ApproachLandscape/community case studiesto understand vulnerability andadaptive capacity in contextScenarios to address uncertainty20-year time horizon to provide atimeframe workable for planning
  • 11. Multi-scaled, iterativescenario-building (MISB) Combines MethodologicalElements from various models: Dose-response Scenarios Agent-based modeling Case studies Participatory methods
  • 12. 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
  • 13. 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.
  • 14. 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.
  • 15. Research design
  • 16. 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
  • 17. 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
  • 18. 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
  • 19. 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.
  • 20. Thanks
  • 21. Daniel R. Williams240 West Prospect RoadFort Collins, Colorado80526 USAUS Forest ServiceRocky Mountain Research Stationdrwiliams@fs.fed.uswww.fs.fed.us/rm/human-dimensions