Stakeholder Perceptions of Climate Extremes’ Effects on Management of Protected Grasslands in a Central European Area

Ákos Malatinszky Institute of Nature Conservation and Landscape Management, Szent István University, Gödöllő, Hungary

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Since meteorological data have been regularly recorded in Hungary, 2010 has been the rainiest year, whereas 2011 and 2012 have been the driest years. Protected grasslands and their management by low-intensity livestock farming are seriously affected by climatic changes. This paper seeks to shed light on stakeholder perceptions of recent extreme weather events, in order to better understand how to adapt the management of vulnerable habitats to anticipated changes. The status of vulnerable habitats is strongly affected by land use change as well; therefore, this process requires stakeholder involvement. Opinions on what aspects are presumed to be affected most by changes in climate were gathered during semistructured interviews from farmers and conservationists in the Körös-Maros National Park in Hungary. Stakeholders revealed negative impacts resulting from extreme floods, droughts, and changes in rainfall and temperature, and they highlighted challenges relating to conflicting management objectives and perverse incentives arising from policy-level issues (such as regulatory structures and implementation). Subjects noted that years with high precipitation caused adverse conditions for livestock, late mowing due to inaccessible pastures, poor quality of hay, and undergrazing (but still compaction damage). Years with negative precipitation records show decreased quantity and quality of hay, loss of valuable forage, winter shortage of green fodder, land degradation, increased water demand, shifting grazing seasons, decreasing carrying capacity, overgrazing, heat stress, declines in physical activities, expansion of invasive alien species, and conflicts between economic interests and nature conservation objectives. In only a few cases was the awareness of these issues converted into practical adaptation or mitigation activities.

Corresponding author address: Ákos Malatinszky, Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, Szent István University, Páter K 1, Gödöllö 2103, Hungary. E-mail: malatinszky.akos@mkk.szie.hu

Since meteorological data have been regularly recorded in Hungary, 2010 has been the rainiest year, whereas 2011 and 2012 have been the driest years. Protected grasslands and their management by low-intensity livestock farming are seriously affected by climatic changes. This paper seeks to shed light on stakeholder perceptions of recent extreme weather events, in order to better understand how to adapt the management of vulnerable habitats to anticipated changes. The status of vulnerable habitats is strongly affected by land use change as well; therefore, this process requires stakeholder involvement. Opinions on what aspects are presumed to be affected most by changes in climate were gathered during semistructured interviews from farmers and conservationists in the Körös-Maros National Park in Hungary. Stakeholders revealed negative impacts resulting from extreme floods, droughts, and changes in rainfall and temperature, and they highlighted challenges relating to conflicting management objectives and perverse incentives arising from policy-level issues (such as regulatory structures and implementation). Subjects noted that years with high precipitation caused adverse conditions for livestock, late mowing due to inaccessible pastures, poor quality of hay, and undergrazing (but still compaction damage). Years with negative precipitation records show decreased quantity and quality of hay, loss of valuable forage, winter shortage of green fodder, land degradation, increased water demand, shifting grazing seasons, decreasing carrying capacity, overgrazing, heat stress, declines in physical activities, expansion of invasive alien species, and conflicts between economic interests and nature conservation objectives. In only a few cases was the awareness of these issues converted into practical adaptation or mitigation activities.

Corresponding author address: Ákos Malatinszky, Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology, Szent István University, Páter K 1, Gödöllö 2103, Hungary. E-mail: malatinszky.akos@mkk.szie.hu
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