Gender and Adaptive Capacity

Linking gender, climate change, adaptive capacity and forest-based communities in Canada

Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Maureen Reed with Dave Natcher and Mark Johnston, University of Saskatchewan

The purpose of this research project is to develop and share usable knowledge that explains how gender and adaptive capacity of forest-based communities or with land users (in Canada) are related, and to modify planning tools to help local officials better prepare for the social effects of climate (and other related) changes. While Canadian government and academic researchers agree that climate change is already affecting the forestry sector, planners and decision-makers at national, provincial and local levels are just beginning to systematically plan, manage, and adapt community practices. In 2011, the Canadian Model Forest Network sponsored the development of a guidebook and a resource book to help model forest communities assess their vulnerability and identify strategies for adjustment. This has been followed by publications supported by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. These efforts have yet to consider how differential capabilities within forest-based communities and landscapes based on social dynamics (such as gender, culture, and age) may affect the planning process and the adaptive capacity within communities. Furthermore, extensive review of forestry research across North America and western Europe revealed virtually no theoretical or applied research that considers how differential social capabilities within forest-based communities affects adaptation to climate change.  Research from developing countries and cognate resource sectors suggest that these considerations are critical for enhancing local adaptive capacity. Yet, we have no direct research or practice in Canada upon which to draw.

Our objectives are to:

1. develop and operationalize an analytical framework from academic and practitioner perspectives to explain how gender and other elements of social difference (e.g., ethnicity), shape the adaptive capacity of residents in a MF community when addressing climate-induced (and other) changes;

2. investigate empirically how differential access to and mobilization of human, social and cultural capitals within a MF community may affect their adaptive capacity;

3. introduce innovative gender-sensitive strategies for assessing and strengthening adaptive capacity within a MF community; and

4. mobilize knowledge gained through practitioner and academic networks and to plan for a systematic and long-term research program.


Reed, M. G., Scott, A., Natcher, D., & Johnston, M. (2014). Linking gender, climate change, adaptive capacity, and forest-based communities in Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44: 995-1004.

Feature on the Canadian Science Publishing blog:  

International Forum Linking Gender, Adaptation, Climate Change and Rural Land Use in Canada

Saskatoon, SK May 27-29, 2014

The forum brought key academics and practitioners together to generate and share usable knowledge that explains how gender and adaptive capacity of forest-based communities and land users (in Canada) are related, and, based on our understanding, recommended changes to the 2011 national guidebook designed to help local officials assess their vulnerability to climate change and identify strategies for adjustment.

This forum was organized in cooperation with IUFRO 6.08.00 Gender and Forestry and a short piece on the forum can be found in their June/July 2014 newsletter: 

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