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Title: Farmers' resilience to climate change in the Welsh Marshes
Author: Griffiths, Rebecca Siân
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 7381
Awarding Body: University of Worcester
Current Institution: University of Worcester
Date of Award: 2015
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Climate change will exacerbate challenges facing food security in the UK. Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will further impact upon farm systems. At the heart of the impending challenges to UK agricultural production, farmers’ resilience will be tested to new limits. Research into farmers’ resilience to climate change in the UK is distinctly underdeveloped when compared to research in developing and other developed nations. This research gap is addressed through exploration of farmers’ resilience in the Welsh Marches, establishing the role of risk perceptions, local knowledge and adaptive capacity in farmers’ decision-making to limit climate shocks. Further contributions to agricultural geography are made through experimentation of a ‘cultural-behavioural approach’, seeking to revisit the behavioural approach in view of the cultural-turn. The Welsh Marches, situated on the English-Welsh border, has been selected as a focal point due to its agricultural diversity, and known experiences of extreme weather events. A phased mixed methodological approach is adopted. Phase one explores recorded and reported experiences of past extreme weather events in local meteorological records and local newspaper articles. Phase two consists of 115 survey-questionnaires, 15 in-depth semi-structured interviews, and a scenario based focus group with selected farmers from the Welsh Marches. This allows farmers’ resilience to climate change in the past, present and future to be explored. Original contributions to knowledge are made through demonstrating the value of focusing upon the culture of a specific farm community, applying a ‘bottom-up’ approach. The priority given to the weather in farmers’ decision-making is identified to be determined by individual relationships that farmers’ develop with the weather. Yet, a consensus of farmers’ observations has established recognition of considerable changes in the weather over the last 30 years, acknowledging more extremes and seasonal variations. In contrast, perceptions of future climate change are largely varied. Farmers are found to be disengaged with the communication of climate change science, as the global impacts portrayed are distant in time and place from probable impacts that may be experienced locally. Current communication of climate change information has been identified to alienate farmers from the local reality of probable future impacts. Adaptation options and responses to extreme weather and climate change are identified from measures found to be already implemented and considered for the future. A greater need to explore local knowledge and risk perception in relation to farmers’ understanding of future climate challenges is clear. There is a need to conduct comparable research in different farm communities across the UK. Progression into establishing the role of farmers’ resilience in responding effectively to future climate challenges has only just begun.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: G Geography (General) ; S Agriculture (General)