For forests and forestry, climate change means both increased risks and new opportunities. From a social science perspective, it is possible to study how actors with responsibility for management and long-term planning of forests perceive the challenges posed by climate change and the implications for their own activities.

Studies of forest owners and forestry advisers provide insights into their perceptions, driving forces and reasons for decisions. At the same time, complex effects may be felt from climate change in other parts of the world. Knowledge of climate issues, personal experiences and effects of climate change, communicated clearly, play a major part in how forest owners – and forest stakeholders – can adapt their activities. Key insights from the research include:

  • There is a relatively high level of practical knowledge about and experience of risk mitigation, and these two factors, together with trust in climate science, risk awareness and experience of extreme events, are key drivers behind adaptation processes.
  • Information on climate change adaptation should be user-oriented, built upon insights about social barriers to adaptation and shared by actors who are in a position to communicate effectively, such as forest advisers. At the same time, opportunities for learning between peers need to be created to turn the information into practical adaptation measures.
  • To create greater stakeholder engagement with climate change adaptation, adaptation research needs to become more interactive and practice-oriented, involving both scientists and stakeholders in a process of co-production and joint development of research. This process requires adaptation research to be conducted in multiple steps, giving scientists and stakeholders time and space to jointly evaluate the research process and findings, assess adaptation needs and build mutual trust.
  • In order to get a comprehensive view of a country’s or a sector’s’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, both direct and indirect impacts need to be considered. Consequently, adaptation planning needs to be more “systemic” and involve actors beyond national borders.

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