An explorative case study of the adaptation process used by an East Coast hill country sheep and beef farmer in New Zealand to cope with climate change : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Agribusiness at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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North Island East Coast hill country sheep and beef farmers in New Zealand are expected to face increased climate variability due to climate change. Over time the frequency, severity and intensity of adverse weather events such as ex-tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall events and drought will exacerbate resulting in increased uncertainty for farmers. As such, due to the changing climate in a farmer’s operating environment the development of a farmer’s adaptive capacity and their ability to manage and adapt to the impacts of climate change becomes important for sustaining a viable and resilient farming system. However, little is known about how a farmer with high adaptive capacity identifies change in their operating environment and the process they use to adapt their farming system to cope with such impacts. As such, to determine the main attributes associated with a high level of adaptive capacity and provide an understanding of a farmers adaptation process in relation to climate change, an extensive literature review was undertaken. This review helped to develop a conceptual framework that was used to guide this study. The main attributes associated with a high level of adaptive capacity that were identified are an internal locus of control, sense-making capability, capacity to learn to live with change and uncertainty, strategic thinking and planning capability, and high self-efficacy. A single explorative case study of an East Coast hill country sheep and beef farmer exhibiting a high level of adaptive capacity was used to investigate the adaptation process. The process used by the case farmer can be usefully separated into three main stages: 1) a sense-making stage where he; a) scans the operating environment for cues that indicate a change, b) identifies a change in the operating environment in relation to climate change, and c) assesses the nature and the impact of the change on the farm system, and 2) a SWOT analysis and strategy formulation stage where he; a) assesses the opportunities and threats that flow from the identified impacts of the change, b) undertakes an internal analysis and capability assessment to determine if the current suite of strategies can cope with the threats and opportunities, and d) on the basis of the previous step, if required, he formulates a new strategy (or strategies) to adapt to the impacts of the change, and 3) the implementation and control stage where he; a) implements the new strategy and b) monitors and evaluates the implementation of the new strategy. The farmer’s sense-making efforts and analysis of the farm system highlights the importance of gaining a complete understanding of the situation of change and its impact before acting upon it through a decision-making process. Based on such the SWOT analysis, it highlighted that the farmer’s buffer capacity to manage and cope with such impacts of climate change may be adequate in relation to the level of change identified in the operating environment. As such the case farmer identified that his current suite of strategies and associated tactics have the capability of coping with the threats and opportunities identified in relation to climate change on the East Coast. Such study also highlights that the formulation of new strategies is not always necessary and therefore prompts the continuation of making sense of change in his operating environment until he identifies that his suite of strategies are not capable of coping with an increased level of change.
The following Figures were removed for copyright reasons: 1 © NIWA (=Chappell, 2019a Fig 8 & Chappell, 2019b Fig 11); 6 (= Sutherland et al., 2012 Fig 1); 7 (=Cowan et al., 2012 Fig 1); 14 (=Chappell, 2019b Fig 1).