Discussing the potential impact of climate change with Tasmanian farmers: defining adaptation options and assessing adaptive capacity
Bridle, K and Brown, P and Macleod, N and Lisson, S and Parsons, D, Discussing the potential impact of climate change with Tasmanian farmers: defining adaptation options and assessing adaptive capacity, 2nd International Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2012, 29-31 May 2012, Arizona, USA (2012) [Conference Extract]
The island State of Tasmania, Australia, is well placed to take advantage of modelled changes to climate. Its varied topography, soils and microclimates and reliance on agricultural production for the State’s economy along with significant infrastructure investment means that many new opportunities exist to expand agricultural production into the future. The downscaling of global climate models (to 10 km grid) has enabled modellers to explore impacts on climate, crops and pasture production at a local scale. Opportunities arise out of projected small changes to rainfall in many regions, a lengthening of the growing season and reduced frost risk. Information from a combination of farmer interviews (24), and workshops at the farm group level (6) and the regional governance level (3) was used to determine potential opportunities and constraints to adaptation at a local, regional and state level. Tasmanian farmers do not readily engage in conversations about climate change, preferring to discuss climate variability, which they feel they have a great deal of experience adapting to, with discussions focussing on immediate concerns such as drought, flooding and input costs. We used the ‘5 capitals’ of sustainable livelihoods analysis, to compare the adaptive capacity of groups for three Tasmanian regions, in the context of responses from eleven other adaptive capacity workshops held across Australia. Perceptions of opportunities and constraints were highly variable nationally and within Tasmania, where they were influenced by sense of isolation (access to markets, social networks) and opportunities to diversify (access to water, land values). Regional differences were shaped by short- and long-term regional, state, national and international impacts on agriculture. The use of an adaptive capacity framework is valuable for highlighting potential needs of farmers to become ‘climate ready’ and provides information for local, regional and national governments to build adaptive capacity in the agricultural sector.