USP Theses Collection


close this section of the library O'Brien, Kilifi Talakatoa

View the PDF document Community perception of impacts of environmental and climate change with specific focus on vegetation changes in low lying atoll islands [electronic resource] : a case study of Nanumea, Vaitupu and Funafuti in Tuvalu
Author:O'Brien, Kilifi Talakatoa
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.Sc.
Subject: Climatic changes -- Tuvalu , Climatic changes -- Environmental aspects -- Tuvalu , Climatic changes -- Social aspects -- Tuvalu , Global environmental change
Date: 2013
Call No.: Pac QC 903 .2 .T9 O272 2013
BRN: 1191195
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: This thesis is about community perceptions of the impacts of environmental and climate change in the low-lying atolls of Tuvalu, with particular emphasis on vegetation change, including human induced change, and possible adaptations to such change. This study is based on case studies of three different atolls in Tuvalu, Nanumea, Vaitupu and Funafuti. The methodology included in-depth questionnaire surveys, in-depth structured interviews with relevant informants, field observations and the production of GIS maps of vegetation change over a three-year period from 2003 to 2006. The results show that there are a range of perceived impacts due to climate change and other, often interrelated, environmental changes, that include increasing drought, increasing severity or seasonal variation in rainfall and the occurrence of tropical cyclones; increasing coastal erosion, saltwater incursion, and frequency and severity of extreme tidal events and vegetation change and the loss of important cultural plants, and increased impacts of invasive species. Contrary to the researcher’s initial perception that vegetation change is due to climate change impacts, the results indicate that many interrelated factors, including human induced impacts, act together and/or exacerbate each other, leading to the conclusion that perhaps vegetation change is not wholly related to any one particular factor but rather a range of possible causes, which act in synergy. It suggests therefore that community perceptions of the complexity of the impacts of climate and environmental change are important and should be used as an important basis for conducting vulnerability assessment and developing adaptation strategies at the local and national levels, especially on atolls and other small island states and coastal areas that are clearly on the frontline against climate and environmental change.
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