Adapting to Climate Change: Perceptions of Maple Producers in New York and Vermont
AbstractMaple production is an important part of local food systems in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, where producers rely on maple as a source of income and as the basis for longstanding family and community traditions. Like many other sectors of the food system, maple production is vulnerable to climate change because of its potential impacts on forest type, tree health and vigor, and timing of sap flow. Since maple producers depend on the health of sugar maples for their livelihood and cultural traditions, adapting to changes in maple production will likely be necessary in the future and will require planning. The goal of this study is to assess the perceptions of maple producers and engage them in the development of strategies for adapting to the potential impacts of climate change. The mixed methods research approach for this study included interviews and a survey of maple producers in the Northern Forest region of New York and Vermont. Results indicate that more than half of the maple producers who responded to the survey expressed concerns about climate change, and more than two-thirds had already made or were planning to make modifications to their businesses. Two factors that were identified as most important to respondents when assessing adaptability to climate change are resiliency of the maple producers’ sugar bush and the producers’ ability to adopt new technologies. These findings are not just relevant for maple production; they have important implications for climate change adaptation of food systems.
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