Research Article: Perceptions of U.S. and Canadian maple syrup producers toward climate change, its impacts, and potential adaptation measures

Date Published: April 25, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Simon Legault, Daniel Houle, Antoine Plouffe, Aitor Ameztegui, Diane Kuehn, Lisa Chase, Anne Blondlot, Timothy D. Perkins, Caroline Ummenhofer.


The production of maple syrup is an important cultural and economic activity directly related to the climate of northeastern North America. As a result, there are signs that climate change could have negative impacts on maple syrup production in the next decades, particularly for regions located at the southern margins of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) range. The purpose of this survey study is to present the beliefs and opinions of maple syrup producers of Canada (N = 241) and the U.S. (N = 113) on climate change in general, its impacts on sugar maple health and maple syrup production, and potential adaptation measures. Using conditional inference classification trees, we examined how the socio-economic profile of respondents and the geographic location and size of respondents’ sugar bushes shaped the responses of survey participants. While a majority (75%) of respondents are confident that the average temperature on Earth is increasing, less than half (46%) believe that climate change will have negative impacts on maple syrup yield in the next 30 years. Political view was a significant predictor of these results, with respondents at the right right and center-right of the political spectrum being less likely to believe in climate change and less likely to anticipate negative effects of climate change on maple syrup production. In addition, 77% of the participants indicated an interest in adopting adaptation strategies if those could increase maple syrup production. This interest was greater for respondents using vacuum tubing for sap collection than other collection methods. However, for many respondents (particularly in Canada), lack of information was identified as a constraint limiting adaptation to climate change.

Partial Text

Maple syrup is a unique and important non-timber forest product in northeastern North America. Its production, probably originating with the indigenous population, continues to be a cultural tradition and a source of income for many family-based businesses in Canada and the United States [1,2]. Maple syrup is produced by the concentration of sap of maple trees by boiling (now often preceded by reverse osmosis), and thus annual yield depends on the volume of sap harvested and its sweetness [3].

In this study, we used a web survey to examine the perceptions of maple syrup producers from Canada and the U.S. about climate change in general, its effects on sugar bush health and productivity, and adaptation to climate change.

In addition to the possible biases identified in Tables 1 and 2, it is important to mention that our sample may not be representative of all North American producers. Indeed, our analysis focuses mainly on producers that accepted to answer the survey. As a result, these producers may be more engaged about climate change, and may have access to more information than those who did not respond.