Does Climate Change Communication Matter for Individual Engagement with Adaptation? Insights from Forest Owners in Sweden

  • Gregor VulturiusEmail author
  • Karin André
  • Åsa Gerger Swartling
  • Calum Brown
  • Mark Rounsevell


Natural resource managers urgently need to adapt to climate change, and extension services are increasingly using targeted communication campaigns to promote individual engagement with adaptation. This study compares two groups of Swedish forest owners: 1493 who participated in two climate communication projects by the Swedish Forest Agency, and 909 who were randomly sampled. The study finds statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of climate change awareness and concern, belief in the urgency to act and intentions to take adaptive measures. Results suggest that the primary effect of the climate chance communication seems to have been on forest owners’ subjective risk perceptions and beliefs in their knowledge and ability, which make it more likely that individuals will take adaptive action in the future. The study also finds that experience with extreme events affects people’s intentions to take adaptive measures independently from their beliefs that these extremes were caused by climate change. Furthermore, findings also highlight the need for communication research and practice to recognise the impeding role social norms and economic rationales can play for individual adaptation. Future research should make use of longitudinal and qualitative research to assess the effect of deliberation- and solution-orientated communication on people’s intentions and actions to adapt to climate change.


Climate change communication Climate change adaptation Risk perception Forest management Extreme events Extension services 



The authors would like to thank all forest owners for their participation. Grateful thanks also to the reviewers for their helpful comments.


This research was funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The study contributed to the Mistra-SWECIA project and the SEI Initiative on Climate Services.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The authors declare that all data were collected in compliance with Swedish data protection legislation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm Environment InstituteStockholmSweden
  2. 2.School of GeosciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Institute of Meteorology and Climate ResearchKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyGarmisch-PartenkirchenGermany

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