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IUFRO Spotlight #36

Responses to climate change? All knowledge counts!

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EcoAdapt aims to enhance local communities' engagement in innovative solutions to climate change adaptation.

The project, a joint undertaking by four research and five civil society organizations from Europe and Latin America, was initiated in 2012 and is being financed by the European Union for a four-year period.

Its overall objective is to develop ecosystem-based strategies for adaptation to climate change in three Latin American Model Forests – in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

"We wanted to understand the processes that may lead to a durable change in the way local actors deal with water resources and related land uses – a change required in light of the potential impacts of climate change on the availability of these resources and the subsequent risk of increased conflicts in terms of access to these resources," said Bastiaan Louman of CATIE ( and Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean in IUFRO's Special Programme for Development of Capacities (

Mr. Louman was one of the authors of: Creating and sharing new knowledge through joint learning on water governance and climate change adaptation in three Latin American Model Forests: The EcoAdapt Case, published as IUFRO Occasional Paper 30.

The paper indicates that climate change adaptation is about risk management to secure water, food, fiber, timber and other means of livelihood.

And, while noting that managing climate risks is a long-term undertaking, it points out that recent climate change trends underline the necessity for active measures to improve the resilience of people and landscapes to the adverse effects of a changing climate.

The paper provides insights into possible approaches for action-research projects that can promote learning among involved stakeholders.

The underlying principle in the EcoAdapt project is that all knowledge is valuable, and both researchers and local actors benefit from adopting a knowledge culture based on joint learning.

So the approach combines traditional knowledge and land management practices with new science-based information to create a solid basis for developing viable climate change adaptation strategies.

"To adapt," said Mr. Louman, "we need continuous learning processes, and for these to be effective and efficient we need to learn how these processes work.

"That means allowing for a dialogue of knowledge areas; knowing the cultural, socioeconomic, political and environmental context; identifying local motivation to learn; creating an environment that facilitates both collective and individual learning; and identifying common goals," he said.

One of the more surprising things the authors discovered was that much locally available information was not being used in the design and implementation of local strategies.

To address that issue, and to accomplish the project's overall goals, Mr. Louman hopes that long-term financing for translating newly generated knowledge into action can be secured.

The full paper can be found at:

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is the only worldwide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees. Visit:


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IUFRO Spotlight is an initiative of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. Its aim is to introduce, in a timely fashion, significant findings in forest research from IUFRO member organizations and/or involving IUFRO officeholders to a worldwide network of decision makers, policy makers and researchers.

IUFRO will encapsulate, and distribute in plain language, brief, topical and policy-relevant highlights of those findings, along with information on where/how to access the full documents. The IUFRO Spotlight findings will be distributed in a periodic series of emails as well as blog postings.

The findings reported here are submitted by IUFRO Member Organizations. IUFRO is pleased to highlight and circulate these findings to a broad audience but, in doing so, acts only as a conduit. The quality and accuracy of the reports are the responsibility of the member organization and the authors.

Suggestions for reports and findings that could be promoted through IUFRO Spotlight are encouraged. To be considered, reports should be fresh, have policy implications and be applicable to more than one country. If you would like to have a publication highlighted by Spotlightcontact: Gerda Wolfrum, IUFRO Communications Coordinator, wolfrum(at)

IUFRO Spotlight #36, published in February 2016
by IUFRO Headquarters, Vienna, Austria.
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