A changing climate for cider
The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) carried out a study on the implications of unavoidable climate change for the UK cider industry. The report was produced by the industry for the industry, working on a low budget but drawing on its own resources and the tools available from UKCIP.
Orchards take a long time to mature and have a long lifetime and the NACM and its members recognise that planting decisions made now will need to take the future climate into account.
The industry-led study was undertaken to benefit the profile and reputation of the UK cider industry, taking a sector wide approach so that smaller players could also benefit from findings.
It is important to carefully set the scope for the issues being considered, including: assumptions about the future; the timescale of interest (e.g. 30 year orchard cycle); and the boundaries around the industry.
It is necessary to provide time to introduce the topic and explore the new types of information involved and the complexity of the issues.
Generic tools, such as BACLIAT, are useful but ultimately, analysis and findings need to be structured in a way that makes sense to the industry.
Trade associations have an important role in building the adaptive capacity at a sector level but cannot get into the detail relating to site-specific impacts and need to be careful about making specific recommendations to their members, as the choice of adaptation measures needs to reflect individual company objectives.
The study would not have happened had the group not been able to devote time to introducing the topic and building its background knowledge, at first through UKCIP’s business partnership and then through presentations and discussion at a dedicated meeting.
Existing pomology research relating to climate change meant a lot of the information on impacts and possible adaptations at orchards was easily available.
The group benefited from an enthusiastic individual who, although not leading the project, acted as an ‘adaptation champion’ throughout the process
The work was also assisted by the fact that NACM has a clear vision of how a future UK cider industry should look, through their ‘Cider Futures’ project.
The sector-wide approach presented the challenge of accounting for differences between different members. For example, the impacts, the level of risk and the potential responses are often site-specific.
There were difficulties in dealing with risks for which climate change was not the main driver, i.e. whether or not to separate the climate aspect of the increasing risk.
Setting the scope of the study was a challenge, e.g. which climate impacts to include, how to define ‘UK cider industry’ and how much advice on adaptation can be given at a sector level?
Climate change impacts is a new subject area for the industry, involving new information and varying levels of knowledge of, and belief in climate change.