Perception-based analysis of climate change effect on forest-based livelihood : the case of Vhembe District in South Africa

21 Feb 2017

Forests are vulnerable to climate change and are also major sources of livelihood for many rural households in Africa. This study examines rural people’s perceptions of climate change impacts on forest-based livelihoods using rural communities of Vhembe District in South Africa as a case study. The study was based on the principles of perceived impact-based assessment, and sustainable livelihoods framework. Using the stratified proportionate random sampling procedure in combination with weighted Enumeration Area for the selected communities, 366 households were chosen and interviewed. Data analysis involved computing frequencies and conducting the Chi-square, binomial tests and binary logistic regression analysis. The respondents identified erratic rainfall, extreme temperature, extreme drought and flooding as key climatic events in their community. But not all identified key climatic events were perceived to constitute risk to forest products and forest-based livelihood. Only extreme drought was indicated to constitute risk to availability of forest products. In addition, the binary logistic regression showed a significant difference (p < 0.05) in the perceived risk of climate change to the availability of essential forest products across the three municipalities. Hence the need for forest development initiatives that target vulnerable forest products per community as a means of enhancing resilience of forest-based livelihood to climate change impacts in rural community development in South Africa.