Vulnerability and adaptation to climate risks in Ontario agriculture

  • Susanna Reid
  • Barry Smit
  • Wayne Caldwell
  • Suzanne Belliveau
Original Paper

Abstract

A vulnerability approach to climate change adaptation research is employed to explore prospects of agricultural adaptation to climatic variability and change. The methodological approach focuses on the system of concern, in this case, farms in Perth County, Ontario. Twenty-five interviews and four focus groups with farmers were used to identify climate risks on farms, and to document farmers’ responses to conditions and risks associated with climate and weather. The information collected describes a complex decision-making environment, with many forces both external and internal to the farm operation influencing management decisions. Within this environment, climate and weather are consistently referred to as a significant force influencing both farm operations and management decisions. Farmers have, however, developed a wide-range of anticipatory and reactive management strategies to manage climate risks. While these have potential to address future climate-related risks and opportunities, there are limits to adaptation, and an increase in the frequency of extreme events may exceed their adaptive capacities. Farmers are also generally unaware and/or unconcerned about future climate change, which could constrain opportunities to adopt long-term climate change adaptations.

Keywords

Adaptive capacity Agricultural adaptation Climate change Climate risk Exposure Farmers Perception of climate Vulnerability 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was sponsored by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Climate Change Action Fund (Natural Resources Canada), the Meteorological Service of Canada, and the Canada Research Chairs program. We thank Robert McLeman and Marie Puddister, and are especially grateful to the many Perth County farmers who participated in this research.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanna Reid
    • 1
  • Barry Smit
    • 2
  • Wayne Caldwell
    • 1
    • 3
  • Suzanne Belliveau
    • 4
  1. 1.County of HuronGoderichCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  3. 3.Rural Planning and DevelopmentUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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