The necessity of mainstreaming climate adaptation strategies or policies into natural resource management plans has been recognized by the UNFCCC. The IPCC AR5 report suggests a growing demand for research to provide information for a deeper and more useful understanding of climate adaptation options, and indicates a lack of effective methods to meet this increasing demand of policymakers. In this respect, a participatory integrated assessment (PIA) approach is presented in this paper to provide an effective means to mainstream wetland climate change adaptation in rural sustainable development strategies, and thus to reduce climate vulnerability and to enhance rural community livelihood. The PIA approach includes a series of research activities required to assess climate impacts on wetland ecosystems, and to prioritize adaptation responses. A range of adaptation options that address key aspects of the wetland ecosystem resilience and concerns are evaluated against community based on sustainable development indicators. The PIA approach is able to identify desirable adaptation options which can then be implemented to improve wetland ecosystem health and to enhance regional sustainable development in a changing climate.

For illustration purpose, the PIA was applied in a case study in Poyang Lake (PYL) region, a critical wetland and water ecosystem in central China with important international biodiversity linkages, and a locale for key policy experiments with ecosystem rehabilitation. The PIA was used to facilitate the integration of wetland climate change adaptation in rural sustainable development actions with multi-stakeholders participation. In particular, the case shows how the PIA can be designed and implemented to select effective and practical climate change adaptation options to enhance ecosystem services management and to reduce resource use conflicts and rural poverty. Worked in partnership with multi-stakeholders and assisted with a multi-criteria decision making tool, the case identified alternative desirable adaptation measures which could be used to deal with climate risks. Several desirable adaptation options were implemented as pilot projects to showcase the effectiveness of these measures which resulted in benefits to the well-being and productivity of all people living in the region.

It should be noted that while the case study evaluated adaptation policies or options to climate change, it was not completed in terms of discussing in detail all the key components of the PIA approach. However, the case study represents the state-of-the-arts research in climate change impact assessment and adaptation option evaluation, particularly in linking with wetland ecosystem sustainability. Findings of the case study have indicated that the potential effects of climate change on wetland sustainability are quite significant. The case has also identified adaptation measures considered by stakeholders to be potentially effective for reducing vulnerability of wetland ecosystems. It is clear that wetland ecosystem sustainability goals will be unachievable without mainstreaming adaptation measures into wetland conservation and health programs under a changing climate.


Climate adaptation ; Wetland ecosystem ; Participatory integrated assessment (PIA) ; Poyang Lake

1. Introduction

Among the pressing global challenges are climate change and biodiversity loss (Reid et al., 2005  and IPCC, 2014 ). This may result in increased risks of wetland ecosystem services loss. The wetland ecosystems can provide a number of economic sectors and communities in different jurisdictions with a range of different and often conflicting functions to meet their demands. While the demands for wetlands and water resources increase as populations and economies grow, the availability and the inherent functions of these natural resources are being reduced by climate change, land conversion, water pollution, and environmental degradation (Gitay et al., 2011 ).

There have been a growing number of initiatives and programs underway that address various aspects of the wetland use conflicts and wetland degradation problems, such as comprehensive wetland conservation program, water use planning, pay for ecosystem services and water pricing to limit water consumption (RCB, 2002 , RCS, 2010 , Finlayson et al., 2006  and RCS, 2010 ). Meanwhile, government has established policies to improve wetland ecosystem health. What seems to be missing, however, is an overarching strategy that brings the climate change concern into wetland conservation planning and water use decision making process. For the most part, the impacts of climate change on wetland ecosystems have received scant attention from government agencies and others responsible for wetland ecosystem management.

Effects of climate change on wetland functions may be so significant that comprehensive adaptive actions or strategies are required, involving the participation and coordination of national/federal, provincial and local authorities and other stakeholders engaged in wetland conservation planning and management. While climate change adaptation has not yet become a topic of high policy priority in rural development planning, several climate policy researchers and development practitioners have proposed for mainstreaming climate adaptation into development planning and sectoral decision making at both policy design and implementation stages.

In this respect, a participatory integrated assessment (PIA) framework is presented in this paper to provide an effective means to address how wetland ecosystem challenges can be integrated through PIA research with climate adaptation policy evaluation. The PIA approach includes relevant sectors (e.g. agriculture, wildlife, human health, and wetland ecosystem), multi-stakeholder participation, environmental science, and multi-criteria decision making. The PIA discussed in this paper will mainly address two questions:

  • What are the challenges facing wetland managers and policymakers at community and regional levels in addressing issues related to climate change?
  • How can we mainstream effective and desirable climate adaptation options into rural development strategies, which can be implemented to address climate change and wetland ecosystem sustainability?

2. The PIA approach

Successful integration of wetland ecosystem conservation and climate adaptation policies will require new approaches built upon a foundation of better research into the links between the climate change and the sustainable wetland ecosystem management (IISD et al., 2011 ). One challenging issue in evaluating wetland ecosystem sustainability under climate change is to design the effective adaptation options or policies that can reduce potential damages to wetland biodiversity and ecological functions associated with global warming. This will be facilitated by PIA and policy evaluation.

In this paper, key steps of a PIA framework are discussed to show how wetland ecosystem adaptation to climate change can be mainstreamed in wetland sustainable development (SD) strategies to reduce climate risks and to enhance rural community livelihood. These key steps assess wetland climate risks, and prioritize adaptation options. A range of adaptation options that address various aspects of the wetland ecosystem vulnerabilities and regional concerns can be evaluated against rural community based SD indicators.

As a participatory approach, the PIA employs a process that includes prior and meaningful consultation with, and the informed participation of multi-stakeholder representatives. Such participation will take place throughout project design, policy evaluation and implementation. A series of training workshops, household surveys and progress review meetings can be arranged throughout the study to help shape the results. The approach will identify desirable adaptation options which will then be implemented to improve wetland ecosystem resilience and to enhance regional SD in a changing climate. The main elements of the PIA approach are illustrated in Fig. 1 and are described briefly below.

  • The procedure begins with developing partnerships and engaging multi-stakeholders for the PIA research approach. The study team needs to build and network committed partnerships with multi-stakeholders in the whole process of the study. PIA requires a partnership among multi-stakeholders including the local vulnerable communities and higher level governmental decisionmakers, organizations from civil society, private sector, practitioner, and scientists. Successful integration of climate adaptation options and wetland ecosystem SD strategies will target clearly defined groups of stakeholders and apply participatory, decision support methods to assist the stakeholders to assess, synthesize and communicate knowledge that is relevant, credible and useful for them to identify desirable and effective climate change adaptation options. Stakeholders should be substantively engaged in the project activities of setting the objectives and priorities, developing work plans, evaluating the processes and information needs for adaptation policy evaluation, assessing and communicating information, and developing adaptation strategies.
  • Information and data on climate impacts of wetland ecosystems and rural livelihood are required for selecting effective adaptation measures. These data can be derived from several different sources including existing study results from previous projects on climate change, government documents, consultant reports, and scientific literature. In areas where climate risks and impacts are not available, additional expert consultation and climate change impact research efforts will be needed to fill the data gaps for those key sectors that are relevant to wetland conservation and sensitive to climate change. Data collected will then be analyzed, synthesized, and documented for next step of the PIA.
  • Step three is to identify sustainable wetland ecosystem management and rural livelihood goals for adaptation option evaluation. It should be recognized that the goals and values toward wetland ecosystem management and rural sustainability have to reflect key concerns of several government agencies and the rural communities. The research procedure thus will follow with an identification and prioritization of local sustainability goals to ensure that the research approach is in line with rural communities' sustainability goals, as well as key economic sectors' ecosystem sustainability, food security, natural resource protection, poverty reduction and well-being improvement goals. These goals are also evaluation criteria by which the social, economic, and environmental effects of alternative wetland ecosystem management practices and adaptation options to climate change can be evaluated. One major source of information used to identify wetland ecosystem sustainability and rural community livelihood goals for the research will be the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), government reports and documents, and other published materials (UN, 2002 ).
  • The fourth step will identify a set of wetland ecosystem climate adaptation options in the study region. Given the large number of existing and potential wetland ecosystem adaptation practice and policy options, a primary screening process can be conducted by researchers and stakeholders to select among a list of alternative adaptation options those of more possible measures for further evaluation. The climate adaptation option evaluation can be carried out by employing a multi-criteria decision making technique to select effective and desirable wetland ecosystem adaptation options which can enhance ecosystem sustainability, and also more importantly to improve local poverty alleviation and rural community livelihood.

The project team will document and identify a list of effective adaptation options in dealing with wetland system vulnerability to climate change. Key knowledge gaps that impede effective adaptation decisions will also be identified and plans for additional collaborations of stakeholders and scientific organizations that target the identified gaps will be developed and promoted for follow-up actions. Recommendations of practical adaptation for integrating into rural SD plans will be suggested for implementation.

  • Step five will engage multi-stakeholders and policymakers at different levels to incorporate desirable adaptation options into wetland sustainability strategies or plans. Workshops and training courses can be held to integrated scientific results and local knowledge on climate risks and adaptation options to promote mainstreaming wetland climate change adaptation options in rural SD strategies. Desirable climate adaptation options can also be implemented as showcases which integrate climate adaptation and wetland SD.

PIA framework for mainstreaming climate adaptation into wetland sustainability ...

Fig. 1.

PIA framework for mainstreaming climate adaptation into wetland sustainability plan.

3. Application of the PIA in Poyang Lake region

For illustration purpose, a case study that promotes the integration of climate change adaptation and wetland conservation and rural SD actions with multi-stakeholders participation are presented. In particular, the case tests the PIA for designing and implementing effective and practical climate change adaptation options to enhance wetland ecosystem management and to reduce resource use conflicts and rural poverty. The study site is located in the Poyang Lake (PYL) region, a critical wetland and water ecosystem in central China with important international biodiversity linkages, and a locale for key policy experiments with wetland ecosystem rehabilitation.

3.1. Study region

PYL region is the largest fresh water lake in China (Fig. 2 ). The region is also one of the ten key ecological function reserve zones in China and an important international wetlands conservation area. The wetland ecosystems in the region provide a range of ecosystem services and natural resources including land (particular for grazing), water, fishery, and other natural resources. The wetlands are major wintering habitat for more than 30 bird species, in particular for Siberian crane that is the most endangered species in the world. Protection of crane and other bird species and the limited amount of wetland under climate change in PYL has become a key biodiversity conservation challenge.

Map of Poyang Lake (PLY) region.

Fig. 2.

Map of Poyang Lake (PLY) region.

There is an increasing concern that climate change may pose significant threats on biodiversity, ecosystem services and health in PYL region, and may further aggravate the existing overwhelming conflicts in resource use among wetland protection, infectious disease prevention, cattle grazing, biodiversity conservation and habitat loss. The motivation of this case study is to reduce conflicts between biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation and other resource uses in the surrounding communities with dense rural poor population. The PYL region has a particular need for quality scientific information, research capacity and effective knowledge management pathways to enable effective wetland ecosystem decision making and management in relation to assessment and response to climate change risks, biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation strategy, and sustainable ecosystem management.

Motivated by biodiversity loss and climate change threats, as well as the above mentioned environmental issues and resource use conflicts that are of critical importance, the primary objective of this case is to test the PIA to address these problems. It was expected that implementation of the PIA would facilitate efforts to build local capacity, sustain wetland ecosystem with global importance, and promote renewable energy use to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition, the PIA design and implementation would take consideration of other key local concerns including schistosomiasis disease infection risk reduction, gender equality, and livelihood of rural poor community.

3.2. Establishing local partnership with multi-stakeholders

For the PIA approach, it is crucial first to establish strong partnership with local rural communities, NGOs, provincial stakeholders and government policymakers, and to get support from them in the course of implementing the project. Worked in partnership with local and provincial governments and other key stakeholders (wetland ecosystem professionals, farmers, and other local institutions), the case study identified alternative effective wetland ecosystem management measures some of which were implemented as practical options to deal with wetland resource use conflicts (wetland resources deterioration, migratory bird habitat loss, schistosomiasis disease, etc.) which would likely become more severe in the study region due to the impacts of climate change. A few properly developed wetland climate adaptation options were implemented in the study region as showcases which illustrated positive benefits to the well-being and health of rural poor people.

3.3. Identifying climate change impacts

Based on the unique situation of the PYL region, the study team conducted a literature review to collect, synthesize and document information on climate change impacts in the study region. Wetland climate change impacts and vulnerability information were obtained mainly using existing data from previous studies on climate change impacts (references are provided below for specific impacts). Some vulnerability information was determined in consultation with local experts knowledgeable about issues relevant to the PYL region. In addition, computer modeling and GIS technique were applied to calculate impacts on the drought aspect (see below for details).

A regional consultation workshop was held on 14 July 2009 at Jiangxi Meteorological Service. Key representatives of stakeholders from government agencies, managers from wetland conservation, as well as experts working on climate change impacts and wetland ecosystem management attended the workshop. At the consultation workshop, a range of climate change impacts in the PYL region were discussed. As a result, four key aspects crucial to wetland ecosystem and rural community sustainability in the PYL region were chosen for wetland climate change impact assessment in the case. These key aspects, drought, wetland ecosystem, migratory bird habitat, and human health, represent the main concerns in the region, and are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Climate change impacts upon drought, wetland conservation, migratory bird habitat, and schistosomiasis disease in the PYL region are discussed in some detail below.

3.3.1. Climate change trends and droughts

Trends of the temperature and rainfall in Jiangxi province for 1961–2007 were investigated (JPG, 2009 ). The main results can be summarized as follows.

  • Daily mean temperature in Jiangxi province increased considerably, with increasing in most areas by 0.6 °C from 1961 to 2007. Warming is more significant for winter seasons. The increasing of the minimum temperature was most significant, which increased the frost-free days.
  • While rainfalls in the province increased slightly, rainy days declined and the rainfall intensity increased considerably.
  • Based on several coupled global atmospheric and oceanic general circulation models (AOGCMs) provided by IPCC in AR4 and with the IPCC SRES A2 scenario (high emission), the temperature over Jiangxi province would increase about 0.62–0.64 °C from 2000 to 2020. The increasing of precipitation would be about 1.9%–2.8% from 2000 to 2020.
  • Under changing climate conditions, extreme whether events are likely to become more frequent and severe. For example, droughts will become more common and extreme hot days will increase as a result of a warming climate.

In addition, Climate China, a downscaling program to generate scale-free climate data for China, was used to investigate climate change over Jiangxi province up to 2080 with SRES A2 emission scenario (Wang et al., 2006 , Zhang et al., 2011  and Yin, 2009 ). The results showed that precipitation will slightly increase over Jiangxi province in 2050 and 2080; air surface temperature will keep on increasing in the whole region; droughts are expected to become much severer due to temperature rise.

3.3.2. Climate change impacts on wetland ecosystems and migratory bird habitat

It has been witnessed recently in the PYL region of a declining of wetland areas associated with biodiversity loss. The continuous low water level in recent years has prolonged the exposure period for grassland of the wetland ecosystems. Shorter submerged period for grassland results in loss of vegetation and form a mud plain with very sparse plants in the beaches area. This causes a decline of soil water content and net biomass productivity. The area for submerged vegetation and biomass is in sharp decline recently. The mud flats plain is home for submerged and floating leaf plants growth, which requires water level fluctuation with alternating conditions between land and water (Hu and Ji, 2002 , JPG, 2009  and WWF, 2009 ).

Wetland vegetation loss will further affect the habitats of migratory birds in PYL region. Droughts have increased in the birds wintering grounds in PYL region during the last two decades, and are likely to have adverse effect on Siberian cranes' habitats. While the cranes can shift to areas of appropriate depth, the plants they feed on are less able to adapt or quickly shift. It is expected that cranes will migrate to other parts of the world due to starvation (Hu and Ji, 2002  and Min et al., 2009 ).

3.3.3. Climate change impacts on schistosomiasis infection risks

Transmission of schistosomiasis agents in PYL region is sensitive to weather conditions, which spend part of their lifecycle outside the human or animal bodies. Pathogens that are carried by snails are exposed to environment. Climate change, particularly temperature and rainfall variation, can affect the transmission of schistosomiasis. A few studies investigated the relationships between climate and schistosomiasis disease distribution and transmission (Lin et al., 1999 , Lin and Zhang, 2002 , Zhou et al., 2002 , Chen and Lin, 2004  and Yu et al., 2004 ; and Zhou et al., 2008 ). For instance, Zhou et al. (2008) used a biological model to project the aggregated effects of climate change on the individual components of the schistosomiasis disease transmission cycle. These studies which most used historical data, suggested that climate change would cause an increasing infection risk in the endemic villages, mainly through expansion northward. The results of these studies also indicated that climate change will also lengthen the transmission season in many areas, causing an increase in the total number of population exposure. Zhou et al. (2008) projected that by 2050, an area of 783,883 km2 might be under risk of schistosomiasis transmission, which is about 8.1% of the total area of China. In addition, the study also suggested that the transmission intensity might increase in existing endemic areas for schistosomiasis. Major climate change impacts on PYL wetland ecosystem and health risk are summarized in Table 1 .

Table 1. Climate change impacts on four key aspects.
Key aspects Impacts & vulnerabilities
Drought Extreme whether events are likely to become more frequent and severe For example, droughts will become more common and extreme hot days will increase Droughts are expected to become much severer in 2050 and 2080 due to temperature increase
Wetland conservation With increased droughts, wetland plant species with limited drought-tolerance and modes of colonization will be the most vulnerable to climate change Wetland biodiversity, particularly among submerged aquatic and floating leaved plants, could suffer the most Global warming may also affect the carbon cycle of wetland ecosystems—increasing GHG emissions
Migratory birds habitat Obligate wetland breeding bird species with nesting and foraging preferences that require specific water level conditions are considered as most vulnerable to climate change The projected lower water levels in the region will have impacts on the distribution and abundance of wetland vegetation, birds, and fish communities
Public health Climate warming will increase the schistosomiasis infection rates, prolong the infection season, and expand the schistosomiasis risk areas

Note: Detailed climate change impact assessment was discussed in Yin (2009) .

3.4. The wetland climate change adaptation option evaluation

One of the major components of the PIA framework is to involve multi-stakeholders in a multi-criteria evaluation exercise to identify desirable climate adaptation options. Summaries of the climate change impacts were prepared and presented at three surveys for poor farm households, graduate students, and experts respectively. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP), a multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) technique, was adopted as an adaptation evaluation tool to identify the priorities of sustainability goals/indicators (Saaty, 1980 , Yin and Cohen, 1994  and Yin et al., 2008 ), and to rank the desirability of options.

3.4.1. Setting SD goals as multiple evaluation criteria

In selecting desirable options, the overall goal is to reduce climate change risks in the PYL region within the context of achieving wetland ecosystem sustainability. Several broad sustainability goals were therefore chosen to act as criteria in the AHP evaluation: one goal to represent each of the core components of sustainability. Based on information gathered from stakeholders through householder surveys and consultation meetings, two sets of goals were created for two parts of the key concerns: 1) wetland ecosystem and habitat conservation; 2) schistosomiasis control (Table 2 ).

Table 2. Goals for adaptation option evaluation.
Wetland ecosystem conservation goals Schistosomiasis control goals
Raise residents' living standard for PYL region Minimize schistosomiasis infection risks
Improve wetland ecosystem health Raise residents' living standard in infection zones
Enhance rural community stability (female status improvement, public participation, and livelihood improvement) Enhance rural community stability (female status improvement, public participation, and livelihood improvement)
Reduce schistosomiasis infection risks Improve wetland ecosystem health

3.4.2. Identifying climate change adaptation options

Various potential climate adaptation measures or options are available to alleviate negative climate change impacts. Based on government documents and existing literature in wetland ecosystem management and schistosomiasis prevention, the project researchers prepared a list of existing and potential options (Hu and Ji, 2002 , Chen and Lin, 2004 , Zhou et al., 2008 , NDRC, 2009 , Min et al., 2009 , JPG, 2004 , JPG, 2009 , JPG, 2011 , JPG, 2012  and WWF, 2009 ).

A primary screening process was conducted by the research team consulting with local stakeholders to select a limited number of adaptation options for further evaluation using the multi-criteria evaluation process. This was achieved through an expert consultation meeting which was carried out in Nanchang to finalize two sets of adaptation options for wetland conservation and schistosomiasis control groups respectively. While the wetland conservation group includes three key aspects: wetland ecosystem, migratory bird habitat protection, and drought. The schistosomiasis disease control group covers human health concern. Each climate change adaptation list is the product of the initial screening process which arrived at a collective recommendation of 10–11 adaptation options for each group that were suitable for multi-stakeholder consultation and multi-criteria evaluation.

For wetland conservation, ten adaptation options were selected.

  • Establishment of climate change wetland ecosystem monitoring and warning system to monitor critical ecological factors in the PYL wetland ecosystem including drought, wetland health indicators, migratory bird habitat, schistosomiasis, and climate variation.
  • Construction of a hydraulic gate or dam hub in the PYL mouth leading to the Yangtze River to control artificially the lake water level fluctuation in a certain range.
  • Implementing integrated wetland conservation and utilization to balance wetland conservation and economic growth; developing fishing farming base with the recovery of the fisheries resources; building eco-agriculture and eco-industries along the PYL; developing eco-tourism; promoting economic growth in the PYL region and improving farmers' living standard; and adjusting the agricultural production structure.
  • Wetland ecosystem restoration and reconstruction: Adopting ecological engineering or eco-technology practices for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged or lost wetland ecosystems to their original conditions.
  • Establishment of wetland nature reserves; improving management system for protected areas; coordinating the relationship between conservation and wetland uses.
  • Enhancement of wetland conservation communication and education; and raising public awareness of wetland protection.
  • Improvement of wetland conservation regulations and law; and strengthening law enforcement.
  • Increasing wetland conservation financing; and implementing payments for ecosystem services.
  • Encouragement of public participation in wetland conservation decision making; and adopting community co-management.
  • Implementing Siberian crane protection measures to effectively protect the internationally important species habitats in PYL wetland systems.

For schistosomiasis control climate adaptation group, eleven options were selected.

  • Improving village water supply safety and manure management: Constructing village tap-water systems and leaking proof toilets to improve village water supply safety and manure management.
  • Enhancing grazing management: Preserving wetlands and prohibiting grazing, increasing the proportion of captive livestock husbandry or rotating grazing.
  • Monitoring closely of host snail and schistosomiasis disease: Enhancing monitoring host snail, eliminating newly-discovered snails, closely preventing snail invasion, particularly paying close attention to snail dynamics in flooding zones where specific control measures should be taken to prevent the transmission of the endemic areas.
  • Practicing chemical to kill host snails in high schistosomiasis risk zones: In a small area near villages, to apply an integrated prevention practice with chemical intermediate host snail control as a key in schistosomiasis risk zones.
  • Parallel chemotherapy for people and domestic animals: Carrying out parallel chemotherapy for people and domestic animals, and maximizing the disease control.
  • Implementing integrated wetland use options: Implementing integrated treatment, combining returning farmland back to lake with a range of wetland development options and management based on specific local conditions. These include dike improvement, fish pond embankment, aquaculture fishing in deep water, and plowing to eliminate host snails.
  • Implementing pilot cooperative health care projects in epidemical areas: The treatment costs for late-stage schistosomiasis patients should be covered by the cooperative health care system. The rural social security system should cover rural extra-impoverished late-stage schistosomiasis patients.
  • Increasing schistosomiasis control funding: All levels of government should increase funding to enhancing schistosomiasis control. State government should increase budgets for the work to eliminate the snails, to treat infected human and animals, and to deal with emergency situation with major schistosomiasis outbreaks.
  • Seeking financial support from communities and private sector: Fundraising in seeking financial support from the communities, the private sector, individuals and other sectors of society, in order to support schistosomiasis prevention.
  • Enhancing disease prevention awareness and health education: Preventing swimming and domestic water use in infected water, with a focus on human-water contact health education.
  • Capacity building for schistosomiasis control workforce professionals: Improving quality education and capacity building for schistosomiasis control workforce professionals, to improve professional skill levels, and to include the schistosomiasis control in leaders' performance evaluation.

In the evaluation process, alternative adaptation options were evaluated by relating their various impacts to the several broad sustainability goals which were used as multi-criteria to select desirable options. The end result of the AHP was a prioritized ranking indicating the overall preference for each of the adaptation options.

During the surveys and the expert meeting, information on climate change impacts on the key aspects of PYL ecosystems was first presented. Paper copies of the survey were provided to allow one-on-one interviews and in small group/workshop settings. Having hard copies of the survey questionnaire available enabled it to be quickly and easily distributed to a wide range of individuals, and it presented a convenient way for stakeholders to respond to the survey questions during the household surveys and the expert meeting.

The Expert Choice (EC) software package was used to facilitate the application of AHP in the case study. Survey questions were designed according to the principles of AHP so that the responses could be input into the software program for compilation and analysis. EC is able to synthesize or combine the priorities for each part of a problem (in this case, the relative importance of SD goals) to determine overall priorities and ranks for the alternatives (adaptation options). More detailed description of the AHP evaluation process can be found in Saaty, 1980 , Yin and Cohen, 1994  and Yin, 2009 , and Yin et al. (2008) .

3.4.3. Results of the multi-stakeholder adaptation option evaluation

The AHP adaptation policy evaluation results are listed in Table 3  and Table 4 .

Table 3. Overall ranks and scores of adaptation options in wetland conservation.
Rank Overall score Adaptation option
1 0.1359 Option 8: Increasing wetland conservation financing
2 0.1074 Option 2: Construction of hydraulic gate or dam hub in the PYL mouth
3 0.1047 Option 3: Implementing integrated wetland conservation and utilization
4 0.1034 Option 5: Speeding up the establishment of wetland nature reserves
5 0.1004 Option 4: Wetland ecosystem restoration and reconstruction
6 0.1003 Option 6: Enhancing wetland conservation communication and education
7 0.0990 Option 9: Encouraging public participation in wetland conservation decision making
8 0.0926 Option 1: Establish climate change wetland ecosystem monitoring and warning system
9 0.0878 Option 7: Improving wetland conservation regulations and law
10 0.0685 Option 10: Implementing Siberian crane protection measures

Table 4. Overall rank and score of adaptation options in schistosomiasis control.
Rank Overall score Adaptation option
1 0.1242 Option 8: Government increases schistosomiasis control funding
2 0.1131 Option 6: Implementing integrated wetland use options
3 0.0952 Option 9: Seeking financial support from communities and private sector
4 0.0937 Option 10: Enhancing disease prevention awareness and health education
5 0.0914 Option 5: Parallel chemotherapy for people and domestic animals
6 0.0902 Option 1: Improving village water supply safety and manure management
7 0.0842 Option 11: Capacity building for schistosomiasis control workforce professionals
8 0.0825 Option 3: Monitoring closely of host snail and schistosomiasis disease
9 0.0775 Option 7: Implementing pilot cooperative health care projects in epidemical areas
10 0.0754 Option 4: Practicing chemical to kill host snails in high schistosomiasis risk zones
11 0.0726 Option 2: Enhancing grazing management

In wetland ecosystem conservation climate adaptation (Table 3 ), the results indicated that increasing government financial support in wetland conservation was ranked the most desirable adaptation option for the PYL region. The options of integrated wetland resource management and wetland ecosystem restoration also scored fairly high. The moderate performance levels for improving wetland protected areas, establishing ecosystem payment schemes, and increasing awareness and education options were due to the fact that these were relatively new measures in wetland resource management in the study region. The scores for enhancing crane reserve and regulation options were ranked near the bottom of the list by most participants, and were not considered to be desirable adaptation options. It appears that regional stakeholders' preference towards different adaptation options are value laden. Most technocrats consider the construction of hydraulic dam options as quite desirable; ecological experts ranked this option very low. Constructing hydraulic works option was judged to be the most inefficient option from an economic perspective, and it was ranked at the bottom overall among ecological experts and academia.

The results of the schistosomiasis risk adaptation option evaluation (Table 4 ) indicate that the feasibility of adopting adaptation practices which prohibiting farmers from accessing wetland resources is relatively low. These options include prohibiting grazing, fishing, and hunting. This is due to the fact that poor farm households will suffer from implementing such policies which deprive farmers' resources use rights. Without appropriate compensation or payments for ecosystem services (PES) to farmers for not accessing wetland resources in the region, it is difficult to force farmers to accept such options or policies. On contrary, policies such as increasing government financial support in schistosomiasis disease control were ranked the most desirable adaptation option for the PYL region. The option of integrated wetland resource management was also scored fairly high. The two adaptation options were followed by two socio-economic options: fundraising in seeking financial support from other societal sectors and public awareness and capacity building. The moderate performance levels were for some technical options such as carrying out parallel chemotherapy for people and domestic animals, construction of village tap-water systems and leak proof toilets, and enhancing monitoring host snail and eliminating newly-discovered snails. And farmers and water resource managers are reluctant to apply an integrated prevention practice with chemical control of intermediate host snail as a key.

3.5. Implementing a pilot wetland climate change adaptation action plan

Worked in partnership with local and provincial stakeholders and government policymakers, the project identified alternative desirable adaptation measures which could become practical options to deal with climate risks which would likely become more severe in the study region due to the impacts of climate change on drought, wetland ecosystem, migratory bird habitat and schistosomiasis infection. A properly developed and implemented adaptation action plan consisting of various effective measures could have positive benefits to the well-being and productivity of all people living in the region.

These desirable adaptation options can help to reduce PYL climate vulnerability and wetland resource use conflicts. Since wetland ecosystem is the key determinant which influences all the economic activities and livelihood of the region, a reduction in wetland resource vulnerability will mitigate the impacts of climate change on migratory bird habitat, reduce schistosomiasis infection risks, and protect the livelihood of farmers. Wetland ecosystem sustainability can also reduce GHG emissions which will generate global environmental benefits.

As a reasonable follow-up, a pilot wetland climate adaptation action plan was designed and implemented in communities in the study region to reduce climate risks and rural poverty, and thus to improve livelihood in poor regions. The pilot action plan provides adaptation guidelines and recommends steps in implementing effective adaptation measures in the region to enhance wetland ecosystem sustainability.

A few desirable wetland conservation adaptation options selected from the multi-criteria evaluation were implemented in the region to showcase mainstreaming of wetland climate change adaptation into rural development strategy. These pilot adaptation options include: 1) establishment of a wetland ecosystem health monitoring system and a mini natural reserve area; 2) building a safe water use ponder for a village to reduce infection rates of schistosomiasis; 3) installation of a 20-m3 methane biogas generator at a village school; 4) completion of a fenced enclosure grazing area (15,000 m2 ) with a rotation grazing system to protect wetland biodiversity and to manage water buffalo and cattle grazing to reduce infection rates of schistosomiasis.

4. Conclusions

This study illustrated that application of the PIA with several important pilot adaptation options will improve wetland ecosystem and biodiversity conservation in the study region. These pilot adaptation measures can also improve human health and reduce schistosomiasis infection risks, particularly for poor rural communities in the region. Obviously, results of the case study will enhance livelihood of the study region, specifically those poor populations who were involved in the study process.

The partner agencies at local, provincial and national level involved in the project represent a range of responsible decisionmakers and practitioners who will provide technical expertise in the future. It is expected that study partners will provide a foundation for expert advice in different regions of China, and a base for further personnel training. A further anticipated output of the project will be the creation of an effective network to sustain collaboration of integrated working on climate change adaptation, sustainable resource and ecosystem management, and rural community livelihood.

Within the Chinese research community, PIA approach will engage natural and social scientists drawn from NGOs, universities and governmental research agencies at international, national and provincial levels. Multi-stakeholders at national, provincial and local level will be substantively engaged in the PIA activities of setting the objectives and priorities, developing work plans, identifying the sustainability indicators and scenarios for policy evaluation, assessing and communicating information, and developing climate adaptation options to enhance sustainable ecosystem management and reduce resource use conflicts.

It is clear that effective climate adaptation requires reducing the climate risks of the most vulnerable. Despite Chinas impressive achievements in poverty reduction since the economic reform began in 1978, there are still a large amount of poor people living on US$2 per day or less in the region. Many of rural poor people are intensely vulnerable to climate change and could easily fall into deeper poverty without sustained efforts to improve their community resilience.


Funding for this report was provided through two contracts from the Boell Foundation China Office (Code: 116006 ) and the GEF/SGP (RAF06 ). The authors would like to express their grateful acknowledgement to both Boell Foundation and GEF/SGP for their kind supports. The authors would also like to thank the reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. Other project team members' efforts and cooperation are also appreciated. The authors thank many local experts and policymakers for their support to the research work. The authors are very grateful to all the farmers who participated in the adaptation options survey.


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