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Adaptive capacity of farming communities to climate change in the Peruvian Andes: past, present and future (preliminary findings of the ACCESS project)

Branch, N. ORCID:, Ferreira, F., Lane, K., Wade, A. ORCID:, Walsh, D., Handley, J., Herrera, A., Rodda, H., Simmonds, M. ORCID:, Meddens, F. and Black, S. ORCID: (2023) Adaptive capacity of farming communities to climate change in the Peruvian Andes: past, present and future (preliminary findings of the ACCESS project). Revista de Glaciares y Ecosistemas de Montaña, 8. pp. 51-67.

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Climate variability has had a marked influence on water availability, traditional farming (agro-pastoral) practices, and therefore the livelihood of human communities in the Peruvian Andes since at least the Middle Horizon cultural period (AD 600-1000). Current global climate warming poses a more significant threat, however, enhancing vulnerability and creating a greater risk to all assets. To better understand the challenges faced by rural communities living with climate variability, as well as the opportunities afforded through appropriate adaptive strategies, a research pilot project (ACCESS) was conducted in the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra, Ancash region. The preliminary findings reveal that variability in precipitation over the past 1500 years was coincident with major cultural changes and advancement in water management practices, although the precise temporal relationships remain uncertain. Nevertheless, the construction of canals and reservoirs, as well as agricultural terraces, clearly indicates that past cultures in the Ancash region recognised the need to enhance resilience and for the sustainable management of natural resources. At the present day, our data indicate that local communities in both Cordilleras are experiencing the effects of climate change, especially water shortages, increasing temperatures and glacier retreat, soil degradation, and greater problems with crop pests. These concerns are worsened by a shortage of agricultural land, conflict between communities and a lack of state intervention. Adaptive strategies proposed by communities include improved water management, economic diversification, greater community collaboration and state investment. The concerns over water availability are in agreement with the preliminary hydrological and crop-water modelling findings of the project, which indicate that with rising temperatures and variable precipitation patterns, improved water management in both cordilleras will be required to maintain effective levels of irrigation for sustainable farming and economic development. Finally, we highlight the importance of restoration of ancient water management and agricultural infrastructure, as well as the significance of indigenous knowledge amongst local communities, as a means of enhancing adaptive capacity in the face of climate change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:113661


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