Stakeholders’ perceptions of climate change and its impact on mountain communities in central Himalaya, India

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Understanding climate change from the perspective of local communities can provide valuable insights into policy and strategy planning for the unprecedented consequences of climate change. A semi-structured questionnaire survey was carried out at 253 locations in the entire state of Uttarakhand that included three stakeholder groups, namely water resource managers, tribal communities, and local people. Qualitative and Quantitative methods were used to analyze the stakeholder responses about awareness, indicators, consequences, traditional practices, and adaptation strategies. Hypothesis testing using the Chi-Square (χ2) test at a 95% confidence level was performed to assess the climate change perceptions considering the stakeholder characteristics such as gender, income, landholding size, tribe, and residency period. The study deals with an innovative approach for validating the stakeholders’ responses with geospatial datasets using common indicators such as precipitation, surface and sub-surface flow, and land use and land cover change (LULCC). The findings indicate that different stakeholder groups have different perceptions regarding the impact of climate change on natural resources, agriculture, and water. The results reveal that the stakeholders’ perceptions are concurrent with observed geospatial datasets. The study will help water resource managers and policy makers develop appropriate adaptation strategies based on indigenous and local knowledge to cope with climate change impacts.

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Study area

The study was conducted in Uttarakhand, in the Central Himalaya, which is part of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) (Fig. 1). The population of Uttarakhand is 10.08 million with 2.89% Scheduled Tribe (ST) of the total population (Census of India, 2011). Out of the total population, the rural and urban populations constitute 69.77% and 30.23% respectively. The natural resources of this region are highly affected by climate change due to shifts in precipitation patterns (Vijhani et al., 2021)

General distribution of stakeholders

Out of 253, 17 (7%), respondents belong to the WRM, 76 (30%) belong to the native people and 160 (63%) are local people residing in Uttarakhand. Stakeholders belonging to different age groups were surveyed such as those below 15 years (2%), 15–30 years (15%), 30–45 years (38%), 45–60 years (34%), and above 60 years (11%). Similarly, gender-based perceptions of climate change were captured among females (27%) and males (73%). For climate perception, a residency period of more than 30 years was


Most of the stakeholders are familiar with the term “Climate Change”. Stakeholder perceptions and understanding of climate change were closely linked to comparisons of historical events, and any variation from the previous scenario was expressed as climate change. They are aware and confident that the climate has changed, not because they are experts on global warming but because of their extensive knowledge of the local environment. The majority of research on perceptions of climate change has …


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