A temporal dimension of household vulnerability in three rural communities in Lijiang, China

We examine the dynamics of household vulnerability during the past 30 years within three different socialecological upland systems in Lijiang, Yunnan. Interviews were conducted to construct coupled human-environmental timelines to facilitate the understanding of livelihood dynamics in the context of more general changes that constitute both constraints and opportunities. The results indicate that significant livelihood changes including specialization, diversification and migration have been primarily driven by sociopolitical influences. Overall vulnerability of households has decreased differently across villages. Nevertheless, climate change is a concern as households perceive increasing temperature, declining precipitation and unpredictable extreme events. In the future, households’ vulnerability might increase since important components of current livelihoods remain climate sensitive. Moreover, environmentally destructive practices such as illegal logging might reinforce the negative impacts of climate change and thus undermine sustainable adaptation.