The perceptions of forest-based communities in Vhembe District of South Africa were
examined. Special attention in this study was paid to the following aspects of climate change:
socio-cultural issues, views and awareness, beliefs with respect to causes, concerns and
lifestyle adjustments people are prepared to make in order to adapt. Vegetation type was used
as criterion to select Makhado, Mutale and Thulamela Municipalities, which together with
Musina constitute Vhembe District. Seven rural communities in each municipality were
selected. Using the stratified proportionate random sampling procedure in combination with
weighted Enumeration Area (EA) for the selected communities, 366 households were chosen
and interviewed. It was found that although awareness of the specific term climate change
was poor, most respondents possessed good knowledge of it and associated challenges.
Increasing frequencies of erratic rainfall and forest fires were said to be visible manifestations
of climate change. There was also a strong concern about the effects of climate change on
forests and related products. The respondents expressed the desire to adopt responsible
behaviour towards use and management of forests as a climate change intervention strategy.
However, most community members were sceptical about the causes of climate change.
Taking all these issues into account, there is need for activities that would enlighten the
people on the causes and consequences of climate change with respect to their livelihood.
This would help promote awareness of climate change and people‟s participation in crafting
measures that slow down climate change.