4.04.08 - Adaptation to climate change


Fobissie Kalame, Cameroon

E. Carina H. Keskitalo, Sweden

Harry Nelson, Canada

About Unit

Climate change is already affecting forest ecosystems and will have increasing effects on forests and their capacity to supply of goods and services. These impacts of climate change will have far-reaching social and economic consequences, particularly for forest dependent communities and the forest dependent poor. The challenge of climate change for forest managers was recently recognised in the recent report of the IUFRO Global Forest Expert Panel on Adaptation of Forests to Climate Change (Seppala et al 2009).

Adaptation to climate change will require a continued commitment to implementing sustainable forest management and the development of new forest management approaches to address challenges that forest managers have not previously experienced. These new management approaches must go beyond technical solutions and address the social and institutional dimensions of adaptation and forest management. Vulnerability assessment and consideration of alternative adaptation options are important factors. With continued research efforts to understand potential impacts of climate change and develop new tools to assess and implement adaptation options, sustainable forest management can reduce vulnerability and increase resilience of forests and forest-dependent communities in the face of climate change.

The implications of climate change may not always be negative. Supply of timber in some regions may increase, particularly in the shorter term. New management approaches may be enable improved anticipation of beneficial outcomes and allow communities to take advantage of these benefits.

Climate change will impact on tropical, temperate and boreal forest ecosystems. Vulnerability of forests and people, and the capacity of forest managers and communities to respond to climate change, varies considerably between regions and biomes. 

There is considerable research effort going on around the world to assess the potential impacts of climate change on forests and to develop management actions and strategies for forest managers to respond to climate change.

Adaptation to climate change is inherently a social learning process. The aim of this Working Party is to bring together researchers from ecological, social, economic and management spheres who are actively working on impact assessment and forest management adaptation options to share knowledge of different approaches and develop greater common understanding methods, techniques and approaches. The Working Party will operate through email networks, on-line discussion, conferences and workshops. The goal is to build a community of practice to address this global threat to forests.