Summative evaluation of climate application activities with pastoralists in western Queensland

Cobon, David H., Bell, K. L., Park, J. N., & Keogh, Diane U. (2008) Summative evaluation of climate application activities with pastoralists in western Queensland. The Rangeland Journal, 30(3), pp. 361-374.

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Survey methods were engaged to measure the change in use and knowledge of climate information by pastoralists in western Queensland. The initial mail survey was undertaken in 2000–01 (n = 43) and provided a useful benchmark of pastoralists climate knowledge. Two years of climate applications activities were completed and clients were re-surveyed in 2003 (n = 49) to measure the change in knowledge and assess the effectiveness of the climate applications activities. Two methods were used to assess changes in client knowledge, viz., self-assessment and test questions. We found that the use of seasonal climate forecasts in decision making increased from 36% in 2001 (n = 42) to 51% in 2003 (n = 49) (P = 0.07). The self-assessment technique was unsatisfactory as a measure of changing knowledge over short periods (1–3 years), but the test question technique was successful and indicated an improvement in climate knowledge among respondents. The increased levels of use of seasonal climate forecasts in management and improved knowledge was partly attributed to the climate applications activities of the project.

Further, those who used seasonal forecasting (n = 25) didn’t understand key components of forecasts (e.g. probability, median) better than those who didn’t use seasonal forecasts (n = 24) (P > 0.05). This identifies the potential for misunderstanding and misinterpretation of forecasts among users and highlights the need for providers of forecasts to understand the difficulties and prepare simply written descriptions of forecasts and disseminate these with the maps showing probabilities.

The most preferred means of accessing climate information were internet, email, 'The Season Ahead' newsletter and newspaper. The least preferred were direct contact with extension officers and attending field days and group meetings. Eighty-six percent of respondents used the internet and 67% used ADSL broadband internet (April 2003). Despite these findings, extension officers play a key role in preparing and publishing the information on the web, in emails and newsletters. We also believe that direct contact with extension officers trained in climate applications is desirable in workshop-like events to improve knowledge of the difficult concepts underpinning climate forecasts, which may then stimulate further adoption.

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10 citations in Scopus
8 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 15480
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Keywords: changed knowledge, grazier, quantitative data, ranchers, seasonal climate forecasting
DOI: 10.1071/RJ06030
ISSN: 1036-9872
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > OTHER EARTH SCIENCES (049900) > Earth Sciences not elsewhere classified (049999)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Australian Rangeland Society
Deposited On: 06 Nov 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:50

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