Date: 10 Sep 2013

Assessing “inherent vulnerability” of forests: a methodological approach and a case study from Western Ghats, India

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Abstract

The objective of this study is to present a methodological approach to assess the inherent vulnerability of forests and apply it to a case study. Addressing inherent vulnerability, resulting from current stresses, is a necessary step for building resilience to long-term climate change. The proposed approach includes use of analytical framework that enables selection of vulnerability criteria and indicators systematically, application of pairwise comparison method (PCM) for assigning weights, and synthesis of a composite vulnerability index. This methodological approach has been applied at local scale to Aduvalli Protected Forest in Western Ghats in South India, where a vulnerability index value of 0.248 is estimated. Results of the case study indicate that ‘preponderance of invasive species’ and forest dependence of community are the major sources of vulnerability at present for Aduvalli Protected Forest. Adoption of this methodology can assist in development of forest management plans to enhance adaptability of Aduvalli PF to current as well as future stresses, including climate change. This methodological approach can be applied across forest-types after appropriate changes to criteria and indicators and their weights, to estimate the inherent vulnerability to enable development of adaptation strategy.