Year of Publication
Human communities in forested areas that are expected to experience climate-related changes have received little attention in the scholarly literature on vulnerability assessment. Many communities rely on forest ecosystems to support their social and economic livelihoods. Climate change could alter these ecosystems. We developed a framework that measures social vulnerability to slow-onset climate-related changes in forest ecosystems. We focused on temperate forests because this biome is expected to experience dramatic change in the coming years, with adverse effects for humans. We advance climate change vulnerability science by making improvements to measures of exposure and sensitivity and by incorporating a measure of adaptive capacity. We improved on other methods of assessing exposure by incorporating climate change model projections and thus a temporal perspective. We improved on other methods of assessing sensitivity by incorporating a variable representing interdependency between human populations and forests. We incorporated a measure of adaptive capacity to account for ways socioeconomic conditions might mitigate exposure and sensitivity. Our geographic focus was the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. We found that fifteen of the region's seventy-five counties were highly vulnerable to climate-related changes due to some combination of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Nine counties were highly vulnerable because they ranked very high in terms of exposure and sensitivity and very low in terms of adaptive capacity. The framework we developed could be useful for investigations of vulnerability to climate change in other forested contexts and in other ecological contexts where slow-onset changes might be expected under future climate conditions.
Fischer AP. Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in Temperate Forest Areas: New Measures of Exposure, Sensitivity, and Adaptive Capacity Frazier TG. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 2018 ;108(3).