The sensitivity of current and future forest managers to climate-induced changes in ecological processes
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Climate vulnerability of managed forest ecosystems is not only determined by ecological processes but also influenced by the adaptive capacity of forest managers. To better understand adaptive behaviour, we conducted a questionnaire study among current and future forest managers (i.e. active managers and forestry students) in Austria. We found widespread belief in climate change (94.7 % of respondents), and no significant difference between current and future managers. Based on intended responses to climate-induced ecosystem changes, we distinguished four groups: highly sensitive managers (27.7 %), those mainly sensitive to changes in growth and regeneration processes (46.7 %), managers primarily sensitive to regeneration changes (11.2 %), and insensitive managers (14.4 %). Experiences and beliefs with regard to disturbance-related tree mortality were found to particularly influence a manager’s sensitivity to climate change. Our findings underline the importance of the social dimension of climate change adaptation, and suggest potentially strong adaptive feedbacks between ecosystems and their managers.
KeywordsClimate change adaptation Beliefs and experiences Forest management Growth change Disturbance change Regeneration change
This work was supported by grant ACRP5 - MOCCA - KR12AC5K01104 under the Austrian Climate Research Program. R. Seidl acknowledges additional support from a European Commission’s Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (PCIG12-GA-2012-334104). We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
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