Assessing the usability and potential value of seasonal climate forecasts in land management decisions in the southwest UK: challenges and reflections
- Sustainability Research Institute and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
Abstract. The potential usability and benefits of seasonal climate forecasts (SCF) to help inform decision-making processes is widely accepted. However, the practical use of SCF in Europe is still fairly recent and, as such, current knowledge of the added benefits of SCF in supporting and improving decision-making is limited. This study is based on research conducted to co-develop a semi-operational climate service prototype – the Land Management Tool (LMTool) – with farmers in South West regions of the UK. The value of the SCF provided to the farmers was examined to help us understand the usability and (potential) value of these forecasts in farmers' decisions during the winter months of 2015/2016. The findings from the study point to the need to explore and develop (new) research methods capable of addressing the complexity of the decision-making processes, such as those in the farming sector. The farmers who used the SCF perceived it as useful and usable as it helped them change and adapt their decision-making and thus, avoid unnecessary costs. However, to fully grasp the potential value of using SCF, farmers emphasised the need for the provision of SCF for longer periods of time to allow them to build trust and confidence in the information provided. This paper contributes to ongoing discussions about how to assess the use and value of SCF in decision-making processes in a meaningful and effective way.