What are the risk factors affecting the region’s community capital? What effect will climate change have on community capital?
“Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century. Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decade and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk.” (Costello et al. 2009)
At a national scale, research from the Lowy Institute has revealed a trend of reduced concern about global warming since the question was added to the poll in 2006. In 2006, 68% of respondents believed “global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs”. This figure reached a low of 36% by 2012 and had risen slightly to 45% by 2014. This is in comparison to those who believed global warming should be addressed, but that we have time to do so. This figure rose from 24% in 2006 to a high of 45% in 2012 before falling to 38% in 2014. Those who believe no steps should be taken “until we are sure global warming is really a problem” has remained steady, 7% in 2006 and 15% in 2014 (Lowy Institute 2014).
At the Border Rivers and Maranoa-Balonne scale, the 2013 Wellbeing survey of the region (Schirmer and Berry 2013) asked respondents for their beliefs surrounding global warming. In the Maranoa-Balonne and Border Rivers, 17.6% of respondents strongly believed the science behind global warming to be doubtful, compared to a national rural and regional response of 9.6%. While at a regional level, 21.4% of people did not doubt the science of global warming, addressing and securing action to mitigate climate variability will doubtless be harder with most one-fifth of the respondents sceptical of the science.
However, 19.5% strongly agreed global warming would make farming more difficult in the future for the region, against a national rural and regional figure of 23.3% and a Queensland figure of 20.6%. In terms of activities acceptable in the local area, 14.2% of respondents found the subdivision of rural land to be “very acceptable”, planting trees on agricultural land 28.5% and the planting trees to sequester carbon 16.5%.
According to the (CSIRO 2007, 2010; Williams et al. 2013), the ability of communities to adapt to climate change is based upon adaptive capacity, and the assets that contribute to this capacity include:
- human capital,
- social capital,
- natural capital,
- physical capital, and
- financial capital.
“For example, when there are changes in weather patterns and growing conditions, farmers with strong financial capital and natural capital may find it easier to move into other crops or farming practices. At the community level, having greater services available, such as health, education and sporting facilities, means that people have stronger social and human capital to draw on. The balance between vulnerability from climate impacts and resources of adaptive capacity will be different across regions and communities and will change over time.” (CSIRO 2010).
Community capital – adaptive capacity in the Maranoa – Balonne and Border Rivers
Other risks to Community Capital
A knowledgeable community with the skills, capacity and commitment to address NRM issues is fundamental to sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental management in the regions. Issues of concern include:
- lack of access to appropriate information services,
- various sectors not working together or doing so poorly,
- duplication of effort between stakeholders,
- Landcare Coordinator/ NRM staff turnover,
- poor stakeholder perceptions/ attitude to change,
- lack of innovation and strategic thinking,
- a culture that does not value ‘formal’ education and training,
- lack of integration/ consistencies of programmes/ awareness strategies,
- low participation in important areas such as NRM, marketing and strategic thinking,
- time and financial constraints (i.e. ability to undertake training),
- clients and stakeholders creating dependencies on each other, and
- poor stakeholder profiles in the community.
It is relatively common for stakeholders in natural resource management, and the general public, to have different perceptions about issues such as sustainability. There are sometimes real or apparent conflicts between these perceptions. While many people may have a vision of sustainability at a property or local level, few are able to identify what sustainable integrated natural resource management means at a regional level. There is also often a lack of agreement on fundamental issues, including the existence or severity of environmental problems, how to resolve/ manage them, and who should be responsible for management.
The lack of agreement/differing perceptions relating to NRM is often created due to the fact that a number of the issues involve value judgments and may have a lack of scientific certainty. For meaningful and long-lasting change to occur, people need to create opportunities to come together to articulate their desires, share their knowledge, negotiate and mediate differences and agree on future directions (and then to implement and monitor them). In this way, shared visions become the common vision for the regions.
Cultural and social beliefs
Cultural and social values are often intangible. They cover a wide variety of beliefs and feelings, for example a sense of place, sentimental values, perceptions about what the intrinsic environmental values are for an area and respect for different social backgrounds. Cultural and social values, especially those that differ from the ones valued in our society, are not always recognised and considered in planning and management. Often when they are considered or included it is only late in the planning process, which means that instead of being central to planning, they are treated as a low-priority add-on.
Levels of education and training
People’s level of education (formal and otherwise) and attitudes to learning will influence the ability of a community to respond to the challenges of sustainable natural resource management. In some cases, information is not available to assist people in decision making. In others the information may not be available in the most appropriate form. There is a lack of understanding of strategic planning and management principles and, consequently, related processes are not well developed.