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Biological Sciences

Research project: Promoting resilience of subsistence farming to El Niño events in Papua New Guinea: an integrated socio-ecological approach

Currently Active: 
Yes
Project type: 
Grant

The project aim is to improve the environmental and socio-economic evidence of the impacts of the 2015 El Niño event on our study site and suggest strategies to improve the resilience of PNG subsistence farming to future extreme weather events, ultimately enhancing societal well-being and local development.

A small village on the slopes of Mount Wilhelm
A small village on the slopes of Mount Wilhelm, PNG © K. Sam

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) rural population is highly dependent on small-scale agriculture for its food security. This is potentially threatened by severe weather like the 2015 drought, both directly through crop failure, and indirectly through increases in insect pests. Our research aims to provide evidence to support actions to improve the resilience of PNG’s rural communities to extreme weather and climate change. We will improve understanding of how natural ecosystems support people at times of need, both directly (e.g. through using forest resources) and indirectly (e.g. through pollination of crops). We focus on an area of Mount Wilhelm where long-term ecological studies by the New Guinea Binatang Research Center give us a strong foundation for this new research.

The project combines both social and ecological elements. On the social side, we will explore villagers’ perceptions of the impacts of the El Niño on their livelihoods, and of how they would change their behaviour under different future scenarios of climate change. On the ecological side, we will collect data on crop yields and pest pressure, to help us understand the ecological impacts of, and responses to, El Niño. Furthermore we will investigate whether natural forests can buffer the negative impacts of El Niño on rural food production, either directly or indirectly.

Our aim is to improve the environmental and socio-economic evidence of the impacts of the 2015 El Niño event on our study site and suggest strategies to improve the resilience of PNG subsistence farming to future extreme weather events, ultimately enhancing societal well-being and local development.

Funding: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Department for International Development (DFID) through their Understanding the Impacts of the Current El Niño Event research programme.

Funding Duration: April 2016-September 2018

Related research groups

Environmental Biosciences
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