Adaptation for tropical forests, tropical forests for adaptation

“Climate change could have a devastating effect on the world’s forests and the nearly 1 billion people who depend on them for their livelihoods”1 says the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in a press release about a new report.

Unless immediate action is taken.

CIFOR proposes helping forests adapt by taking measures such as improving fire management; using plantation species that can cope with future climate; and helping forests evolve with changing climate rather than resist it. Forests can help us adapt — reduce the vulnerability of society to climate change — by assuring the flow of ecosystem services.

There should be help for the people who are managing, living in or conserving forests to adapt to future changes:

“The people living in forests are highly dependent on forest goods and services and are often very vulnerable socioeconomically,” says Bruno Locatelli, a CIFOR scientist and lead author of the report. “They usually have a much more intimate understanding of their forests than anyone else, but the unprecedented rates of climate change will almost certainly jeopardise their ability to adapt to new conditions. They will need help.”

Helping the people who know best seems an interesting contradiction and I wondered how they were proposing to go about that. Participatory approaches, it seems. I could not find that much about it in the report, which focuses on process and policy. Take this excerpt from Box 11 on “The role of science in coordinating and supporting adaptive processes in West Africa” (by Houria Djoudi, Hermann Kambire and Maria Brockhaus).

A workshop on local governance, forests and adaptive capacities in a municipality in southwest Burkina Faso, with actors from different scales, established a platform for shared knowledge and learning on forests and adaptation to climate change. Efforts to contribute to vertical coordination of adaptation, as well as support for local governance and horizontal coordination in decision making processes related to climate change adaptation and forests, are ongoing.

CIFOR also has an interesting little report on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

  1. That many? I think that they count anyone who uses a tree as part of their livelihood as someone dependent on forests. They might as well say that we all depend on forests, which we do. []

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