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Perceptions of climate change, adaptation and the policy process within the Forestry Commission of Great Britain - a comparative study of England, Scotland and Wales

Kamau, Margaret Wambui (2010) Perceptions of climate change, adaptation and the policy process within the Forestry Commission of Great Britain - a comparative study of England, Scotland and Wales.

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Abstract:Forests are an important part of the landscape and provide benefits to society. The vulnerability of forests to climatic changes is already becoming more evident. Forest management is thus a key factor in tackling adverse climatic impacts and studies have suggested changing management planning and practices to aid forests in adapting to climate change. The aim of this study was to identify the perceptions of climate change, adaptation and the policy process among the staff of the Forestry Commission of England, Scotland and Wales. A documentary study was undertaken of key documents, and semi-structured interviews conducted through scheduled telephone interviews with key respondents. The data was transcribed in NVivo for analysis. The results show that temperature in the UK is projected to become warmer by the 2080s and changes will be greatest for the High Emissions scenario. Similarly, precipitation will experience changes, with drier summers and wetter winters expected. Forests may experience increased productivity and longer growing seasons in some areas. A change in the ranges of species distributions and competition between species is also expected. Abiotic disturbances caused by fires, wind, flooding and drought are predicted to increase in frequency and severity. From the results of the interviews, the respondents seem to have a clear understanding of climate change, with majority of them of the opinion that climate change is occurring. The main reason they give is that „there is significant evidence of it‟. The respondents also believe that climate will change to a degree that will significantly impact on forests in GB. Also, the respondents have a knowledgeable understanding of what adaptation entails. With regards to AFM, majority of respondents are not aware of it, and tend to confuse it with general adaptation strategies. The opinion of the respondents on adaptation within the FC is varied and they mention the need for more research and greater evidence before they can adapt their practices fully. The main drivers of forest operations are the policy documents which provide clear guidance to achieve set goals and targets. The climate change agenda is adequately addressed across the three countries, although it is not the only factor influencing forest policies and operations. The descriptions of the policy process differed for the policy and implementation staff, although adequate channels for feedback and consultation were identified. Overall, it can be concluded that there is no major difference in perceptions between the three countries or the policy and implementation staff. Keywords: adaptation; climate change; forestry; perceptions; policy process; Great Britain
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
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