How to adapt?

Adaptation measures (SR4) – Positive and negative climate impacts on ecosystem services with specific reference to multifunctional landscapes and grasslands

The Carpathians are characterized by a huge surface and wide variety of traditionally managed, multifunctional landscapes. Such landscapes are often dominated by pastoralism and are therefore principally comprised of grasslands and pastures whose detailed ecological structure is typified by the 'green-veining' of hedges, woodland, forests and watercourses. Such landscapes have strong cultural associations, provide a wide range of ecosystem services and associated economic benefits, and are rich in wildlife and biodiversity. Grasslands are generally 'plagioclimax' communities that have been traditionally maintained by some form of grazing and a cutting or burning regime.

However these landscapes and grasslands are under serious pressure. Land abandonment as well as forestry and agricultural intensification are some of the key pressures. On top of that climate change induced meteorological changes will create additional pressures. Grasslands in the Carpathians are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They disappear through a.o.:

  • changing land use

  • the encroachment of forest both through planting and the natural advancement of forest area, encouraged by changing climate conditions; also the problem of land abandonment contributes significantly to this;

  • agricultural intensification or change in crops (eg. biofuel crops);

  • land abandonment

  • without management, grasslands are likely to succumb to colonisation by scrubs and forests; as a result they lose a significant component of their biodiversity interest through the dominance of coarse herbs and grasses which outcompete the more fragile and rarer species; this will result in the loss of certain ecosystem services and a gain in others; for example, there may be fewer medicinal herbs, pollinating insects, sociocultural associations, domestic animals including traditional breeds; conversely, sequestration may be increased where scrub and forest develops.

Assessment of the vulnerability of the tourism sector

A number of trends in the impact of climate change on tourism are identified in the CARPIVIA project and the study on “Impacts of and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Danube-Carpathian Region” by the Central European University (2008).

WINTER season:

  • Relative significance of tourism activity has increased in Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. These trends are expected to continue in the next couple of years

  • Construction of new ski-resorts has become a characteristic tendency throughout southeast Europe.

  • Long-term snow cover time series (data from 20 stations in Slovakia) analysis showed a significant decrease of snow cover characteristics in many parts of Slovakia, with an exception of mountainous regions, where the snow cover is increasing, primarily as a result of increasing precipitation during winter season (Lapin, 2007). In general, low-lying skiing regions will be more affected by climate change than skiing regions at higher latitudes.

  • On the other hand (by IPPC 2007b) it is anticipated that globally natural snow cover decreases especially at the beginning (September) and in the end (April) of the ski season. So, winter season will become shorter.

  • These tendencies seem to contradict with the development of new locations for ski tourism being strongly supported by some governments (e.g. in Romania and Bulgaria).

SUMMER season:

  • Summer tourist season will be longer.

  • In lower lying areas of Central Europe, in the Danube basin, tourism will be affected by the increasing frequency and magnitude of events such as flooding heat waves, fires, deteriorating quality of natural lakes e.g. Hungary (lake Balaton). On the other hand, summer tourism will be longer and distribution of tourist visits will be more even.

  • Countries in the Carpathian region might also benefit from shifting tourist flows from countries for example in the Mediterranean, where tourist industry is very vulnerable to climate change (EC, 2007b).

Various research projects have investigated the (potential) impacts of climate change on the tourism sector, e.g. PESETA, CLAVIER, ClimAlpTour. They contain interesting findings and evidence from case studies’ analysis in the Carpathian region which will form valuable inputs for this study.

 

General objectives

Main aim of the SR4 is to collect and evaluate the adaptation measures within and outside of the Carpathian region which could be beneficial in the Carpathian region for further use. The evaluation should highlight on the cost benefit quantification where possible. These results give the basis for recommendation to the European Commission for further support the region and develop the Common Agricultural Policy.

Subjects of the study request:

  • Ecological networks and ecosystem fragmentation

  • Assessing and tailoring adaptation measures for the Carpathian region

  • Agri-environmental schemes and other farmer support

  • Ex post evaluation of adaptation measures

  • Supporting costs and benefits studies

 

Contact person: Sándor Szalai, e-mail: szalai.sandor@mkk.szie.hu