Assessing the relation between geographical exposure to hydrological climate extremes and the perception and understanding of the farmers and public
Increasing climate extremities, as consequences of climate change, highly affect the public and farmers in the SE Carpathian Basin. Our research aimed at the investigation of the perceptions and experiences of public, farmers and decision makers on drought and inland excess water problems, since their knowledge and co-operation are essential in the future planning of sustainable water management. Their opinions were explored with the help of 481 questionnaires and 52 in-depth interviews in the following topics in SE Hungary: (1) Which effects of climate change are perceived? (2) How significant are the problems in their life? What effects do they observe in agriculture? (3) What are the causes of drought and the inland excess water? (4) What kinds of possibilities can they see to improve the present situation? (5) To what extent do they consider the present farming structure sustainable? The spatial distribution of the answers was compared with the spatial pattern of drought and inland excess water sensitivity based on environmental indicators. The results of both interviewing and questionnaire showed high correspondence to the spatial patterns of sensitivity. It reflects that farmers and the public consider the severity and importance of drought and inland excess problems realistic and recognise the contributing factors correctly. They are divided about the sustainability of the current cultivation; however, they agree that adaptation to changing circumstances is crucial. They see several solutions to the problems, but now they are actually puzzled and trust in the expertise of the future hydrological, engineering and research community.