Forest communities provide a new perspective on climate change in Papua
CIFOR Forest News, 11 July 2012

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE: Recognizing the need to better understand local communities’ perceptions of climate change, researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have explored the role of local knowledge in analyzing land-use change. Understanding local people’s perceptions of changes in climate and the perceived impacts on their landscapes and livelihoods could help researchers address the gaps in climate science. This could lead to better strategies aimed at protecting the most vulnerable communities. The researchers conducted interviews in six villages in Papua, Indonesia. While communities did not perceive much variation in temperatures and rainfall, they did notice the increased frequency of extreme events. “Local knowledge can be used to fill information gaps to give a more complete picture of what is changing in people’s territories, either climatic or other changes,” said CIFOR-CIRAD researcher Manuel Boissière, presenting new unpublished findings at a recent conference in Montpellier, France. Villagers overwhelmingly did not think climatic events were key drivers of changes in their livelihoods and landscape, instead identifying infrastructure development, economic activities and new settlements as the main drivers. According to researchers, these findings help understand what policies can be developed in terms of land use planning, natural resource management and adaptation. The study is part of a broader research goal to understand how to integrate local priorities into land use plans, and how local people can play a role in decision-making. Read the release …