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Environmental Change Perception and Engagement of Mountain-Dwelling People in the Western Himalayas, at Rajouri District, Jammu and Kashmir, India

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  • 1 a CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan, China
  • | 2 b Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • | 3 c Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
  • | 4 d Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
  • | 5 e Department of Environmental Management, Bharathidasan University, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India
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Abstract

Substantial temperature rise is reported in the Himalayas, and the vulnerability of the region to climate change is well recognized. An apt adaptation strategy to cope with climate change calls for informed people’s participation, which was rarely investigated in the western Himalayas. Having been better informed, people in developed areas adopt better actions against climate change that are well guided by their perception. In contrast, Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir represents a relatively impoverished and climate change–vulnerable region. Therefore, we gauged people’s perceptions and actions in this area from a household survey from 717 randomly selected individuals. Further, consistency of perception was compared with meteorological records on temperature, humidity, wind speed, rainfall, and aboveground biomass from 1983 to 2013. The findings revealed that temperature increased significantly while changes in rainfall, wind speed, and relative humidity were insignificant. Although people sensed a rise in temperature and deforestation correctly, most of them differ with respect to rainfall, wind speed, and humidity. They reported rising pollution and traffic but no change in crop productivity or crop varieties. Of the respondents, 91% considered climate change as a risk, 86.8% reported reactive actions to it, and 82.8% reported proactive actions. Locals from varied socioeconomic backgrounds are not much informed about climate change; hence, the reasonability of their responses and positive adaptation actions needs further research. To engage people in climate adaptation actions, we suggest disseminating precise scientific information about local climate through awareness programs and by engaging them in climate change activities through suitable organizations.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Mohd Zeeshan, malik908@gmail.com; Huanyuan Zhang, huanyuan.zhang@ouce.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Substantial temperature rise is reported in the Himalayas, and the vulnerability of the region to climate change is well recognized. An apt adaptation strategy to cope with climate change calls for informed people’s participation, which was rarely investigated in the western Himalayas. Having been better informed, people in developed areas adopt better actions against climate change that are well guided by their perception. In contrast, Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir represents a relatively impoverished and climate change–vulnerable region. Therefore, we gauged people’s perceptions and actions in this area from a household survey from 717 randomly selected individuals. Further, consistency of perception was compared with meteorological records on temperature, humidity, wind speed, rainfall, and aboveground biomass from 1983 to 2013. The findings revealed that temperature increased significantly while changes in rainfall, wind speed, and relative humidity were insignificant. Although people sensed a rise in temperature and deforestation correctly, most of them differ with respect to rainfall, wind speed, and humidity. They reported rising pollution and traffic but no change in crop productivity or crop varieties. Of the respondents, 91% considered climate change as a risk, 86.8% reported reactive actions to it, and 82.8% reported proactive actions. Locals from varied socioeconomic backgrounds are not much informed about climate change; hence, the reasonability of their responses and positive adaptation actions needs further research. To engage people in climate adaptation actions, we suggest disseminating precise scientific information about local climate through awareness programs and by engaging them in climate change activities through suitable organizations.

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Corresponding authors: Mohd Zeeshan, malik908@gmail.com; Huanyuan Zhang, huanyuan.zhang@ouce.ox.ac.uk

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