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Research Report

Tropical forests and adaptation to climate change: In search of synergies

Carmenza Robledo
Markku Kanninen
Lucio Pedroni
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2005
Pages: 195
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-vi)
    Jürgen Blaser, José Juaquín Campos and David Kaimowitz

    Vulnerability to natural disasters has increased tremendously during the past 25 years and their effects disproportionately affect poor people. Natural disasters, such as storms, especially tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, forest fires, and landslides, affect the poor more severely because they are often forced to live in areas that are more susceptible to natural hazards. With few alternatives within their reach, the poor often make their living on steep hillsides, or low-lying riparian and coastal areas that are exposed to landslides, mudslides, floods and tidal waves. An increasing number of these fragile sites are facing rapid environmental degradation including erosion, reduced...

  2. Introduction

    • (pp. 1-4)
      Markku Kanninen, Lucio Pedroni and Carmenza Robledo

      Impacts of climate change on natural resources are many and its chain of causality yet difficult to understand. Projected changes in the climatic system will affect natural and social systems globally, increasing their vulnerability and affecting their ability to supply goods and services to meet constantly increasing demand. Along with changes in mean climatic conditions like global warming, the globe may face other severe changes that affect the whole climate system, such as changes in oceanic circulation and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

      For forestry and other natural resources management, the major challenges are in developing best practices...

    • (pp. 5-14)
      José Romero

      Anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols influence the climate of the Earth. Working Group I (WG I) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses observed and potential future changes in climate. The report contributed by WG I to the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR), concludes, inter alia, that the globally averaged surface temperatures have increased by 0.6 ± 0.2° C over the 20th century (Houghton et al., 2001). For the range of scenarios considered in the TAR, projections which involve no climate policy intervention (Nakicenovic and Swart, 2000) indicate that the globally averaged surface air temperature is...

  3. Understanding and modeling local climate change

    • (pp. 15-25)
      Peter G. Jones

      For users of climate change data, one of the biggest problems is that General Circulation Models (GCMs) have a large footprint; for example, the Hadley II Grid Cells cover the whole of Panama. Although later models have smaller pixel sizes, none as yet can model the local environment. One way around this problem is to nest the models; this is known as dynamic downsizing.

      We have used a GCM of the whole world at the outset, then within certain cells of that model we nest another copy of the model; this could model up to the same number of grid...

    • (pp. 26-37)
      Peter G. Jones and Philip K. Thornton

      Various assessments of the effect of climate change on agriculture have been published. The Agro Ecological Zones approach of Fischer et al. (2002) provides a comprehensive worldwide summary based on an aggregate method on half-degree grid squares. As noted by the authors, this is an approximation because the spatial variability in agricultural production requires a much more precise approach. However, the grid size is restricted by the cell size of the Global Circulation Model (GCM) and to gain better precision the results must be downscaled to a smaller pixel size. Modern dynamic growth and yield models now are available for...

    • (pp. 38-56)
      Peter G. Jones, Jorge Amador, Max Campos, Katharine Hayhoe, Mirna Marín, José Romero and Andreas Fischlin

      As defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts” (Watson et al., 2001). Such adjustments require the availability of bioclimatic scenarios that adequately represent the local conditions in a changing climate system.

      In human systems, private decision makers and public agencies or governments undertake adaptation (Ahmad et al., 2001) and it requires sound scientific information. Climate change scenarios are built from a baseline data set characterising the current climate plus projections for possible future climatic means...

  4. Sustainable livelihoods and poverty

    • (pp. 57-70)
      Hannah Reid and Saleemul Huq

      The debate about climate change has now reached a stage where most scientists accept that, whatever happens to future greenhouse gas emissions, we are now locked into a future characterised by significant human-induced changes to our climate. There are two possible responses to these changes: the first is to try to reduce the extent to which our climate is altered. This is known as climate change mitigation. The second is to learn to live with the inevitable changes. This is known as adaptation to climate change.

      Biodiversity is inextricably linked to climate; changes in climate affect biodiversity, and changes to...

    • (pp. 71-96)
      Anne Hammill, Liza Leclerc, Outi Myatt-Hirvonen and Zenia Salinas

      Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have confirmed that we are now locked into inevitable changes in climate. Changes on climate such as mean temperature, sea-level rise and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events as well as changes in precipitation patterns have been projected. Although there is a lack of certainty in predicting and quantifying climate change impacts on socio-economic systems, it is well known that climate change impacts threaten a major dimension of human well-being, namely security. However, impacts depend on the exposure and sensitivity of the threatened system. For instance, human systems in...

  5. Inter-linkages between adaptation and mitigation

    • (pp. 97-102)
      Claudio Forner

      The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994 with the objective of “stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Its objective also states that such a level “should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”. These two sentences encompass the two main avenues for action under the UNFCCC: Mitigation, for any activity that either reduces...

    • (pp. 103-121)
      Louis V. Verchot, Jens Mackensen, Serigne Kandji, Meine van Noordwijk, Tom Tomich, Chin Ong, Alain Albrecht, Cynthia Bantilan, K.V. Anupama and Cheryl Palm

      There is increasing acceptance that even very ambitious climate change mitigation measures, which would go beyond the current international climate agreements, would not be sufficiently effective to halt the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in the medium term and that therefore adaptation measures are as needed as mitigation measures.

      The impact of climate change will be affecting developing countries more severely than developed countries not the least because of their generally low adaptive capacities (IPCC, 2003). In these countries, the agricultural sector will be among the most vulnerable putting rural populations at large risks. At the same time, we...

    • (pp. 122-153)
      Daniel Murdiyarso, Carmenza Robledo, Sandra Brown, Oscar Coto, John Drexhage, Claudio Forner, Markku Kanninen, Leslie Lipper, Nicole North and Marco Rondón

      The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) presents two ways to address causes and consequences of human-induced changes in the climatic system: mitigation and adaptation (see Forner, this volume). The starting point for this chapter is the recognition that these two possibilities are complementary to one another, while also being key to the overall goal of sustainable development.

      Linking mitigation and adaptation through activities in the land use, landuse change and forestry (LULUCF) sector can be an efficient way to meet the main objective of the UNFCCC, which is to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that...

  6. Adaptation and biological diversity

    • (pp. 154-183)
      Jennifer Biringer, Manuel R. Guariguata, Bruno Locatelli, Jean-Laurent Pfund, Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Avelino G. Suarez, Sam Yeaman and Andy Jarvis

      Habitat conversion and degradation, overexploitation, displacement by invasive alien species and global climate change are the main processes currently impacting biodiversity. In particular, it is expected that within the next 100 years, terrestrial ecosystems will suffer the most from land use change, followed by climate change and nitrogen deposition (Sala et al., 2000). Although past changes in the global climate during the last 1.8 million years produced dramatic contractions of the habitat range of most species, as well as marked reorganisation of biological communities, these shifts occurred in response to rates of climate change that were much lower than those...

  7. (pp. 184-186)
    Carmenza Robledo, Markku Kanninen and Lucio Pedroni

    The negotiations within the UNFCCC have already produced a complete framework for promoting adaptation to changes in the climate system. Such a framework presents a dynamic process of three major steps: assessing vulnerabilities, creating or improving capacities and planning and implementing adaptation measures (see Romero, “Adaptation to climate change: findings from the IPCC TAR”).

    The implementation of this process faces enormous challenges at different levels. Currently, one of the major tasks is to model local climate change, so that vulnerabilities can be assessed. This is especial significant for developing countries, where negative impacts are likely to be greater. As explained...