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Research Report

Facing an uncertain future: How forests and people can adapt to climate change

Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2008
Pages: 100
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    In 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented incontrovertible evidence that the global climate is changing because of human activities. Since the first IPCC report published in 1990, scientific knowledge has been growing and policy responses have been implemented at international, national and local levels. In the most prominent international responses to climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; established in 1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997), the focus is put on mitigation—reducing the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—rather than on adaptation—reducing the vulnerability...

  2. (pp. 3-20)

    Tropical forests are vulnerable to climate change and adaptation is needed to reduce their vulnerability. In this chapter, the vulnerability of tropical forests is introduced in section 2.1, possible adaptation options are presented in section 2.2, and the implementation of forest adaptation is discussed in section 2.3.

    The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Parry et al. 2007) indicates that if global average temperature increases by more than 1.5–2.5°, there are projected to be major changes in local climates, in terms of mean and range of temperature, precipitation (rainfall) and extreme events (see Appendix). The...

  3. (pp. 21-42)

    Tropical forests provide essential services at different scales, from local communities to the world, and can contribute to reducing the vulnerability of society to climate change. Thus, they need to be included in adaptation policies. The role of ecosystem services for human wellbeing is introduced in section 3.1 and the contribution of tropical forests to the adaptation of society to climate change is detailed in section 3.2. The insertion of forest in adaptation policies is discussed in section 3.3.

    The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2003) defines ecosystem services as the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. Three types of ecosystem services directly...

  4. (pp. 43-44)

    As tropical forests are vulnerable to climate change, management and conservation practices should integrate climate change threats and aim to reduce vulnerabilities. Adaptation options have already been defined for buffering forests from perturbations or for facilitating a shift or ‘evolution’ of forests towards new states adapted to changing climate conditions. The need for flexible and diversified approaches in forest adaptation is heightened by uncertainties.

    Tropical forests provide important provisioning, regulating and cultural services that contribute to human wellbeing at scales from local to global. The increasing degradation and reducing capacity of ecosystems to provide services are major concerns for sustainable...