Training Workshop I


Scientific Advisor:
Global Forest Experts Panels (GFEP)

Lead Trainer:
Bastiaan Louman, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Costa Rica

Resource Person:
Ernest Foli, Forestry Research Institute Ghana (FORIG), Ghana

Michael Kleine, IUFRO-SPDC


Workshop Results:
Climate change is, perhaps, the greatest threat that world society is facing now and in the future. Although there is still an important level of uncertainty on how strong these changes are going to be, there is undoubtedly a common agreement that human activities, mainly through the use of fossil fuels and deforestation, are major forces driving these processes at a global scale.

The workshop "Forests and Climate Change" was organized as part of the IUFRO-SPDC Pre-Congress Training Programme at the Forest Human Resources Development Institute (FHI) in Namyangjiu City (near Seoul), Republic of Korea. The workshop offered participants from developing countries the opportunity to acquire a better understanding of the role that ecosystem services may have within adaptation strategies in the tropics, and of its implications for forest research planning and implementation. The participants enhanced their ability and skills in applying state-of-the-art methods and addressing climate change from the perspective of adaptation of forests and people to the impacts of global climate change conditions.

The training workshop was designed and lead by Bastiaan Louman (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, CATIE, Costa Rica) and Ernest G. Foli (Forestry Research Institute Ghana, FORIG, Ghana). In total, 20 scientists (6 women and 14 men) working at universities and research institutions from 14 countries participated in the workshop.

The two and a half day workshop started with an overview by Bastiaan Louman about the workshop content comprising the following seven sessions:

•    Observed impacts of climate change on forests and their services to society,
      particularly in tropical and subtropical regions;
•    Ecosystem services and adaptation strategies to climate change;
•    Vulnerability: concepts and methods;
•    Implications for forest research and on-the-ground forest management;
•    Community-based Risk Screening Tool-Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRISTAL);
•    Various case studies on model applications; and
•    Wrap-up discussions.

Placing strong emphasis on adaptation, the integration of basic concepts regarding forest ecosystem services and human well-being allowed the participants to establish an initial structure for the discussion on how to design adequate adaptation policies and their implementation strategies. A certain degree of climate change is unavoidable, and has occurred already, thus adaptation is necessary. At the same time, it is important to build up the resilience of natural and human systems regarding the impacts expected under different climate change scenarios. This means that ecosystems must be viewed as integrated systems requiring holistic approaches to fully understand all linkages and interactions between the various stakeholders and land uses.

Modeling has become an important tool for estimating the impact of climate change and projecting future scenarios. Several types of models were discussed to accomplish this objective. However, lack of updated and systematically assessed climate data and information limits the accuracy of these models, particularly in the tropics. In addition, the use and interpretation of models by scientists may differ from that by decision makers which do not like the actual degree of uncertainty linked to model results. At the same time, while many of the climate change impacts are occurring on a medium to long term temporary scale, people and decision makers tend to act on a short term basis.

It is important to highlight that forests, both natural and planted, should be an integral part of adaptation policies at all levels since a major proportion of forest-dependent people rely on basic (forest-based) ecosystem services for its well-being and livelihood. Therefore, adaptation policies must be integrated into the forest sector policies. In the design of such policies, important elements that should be considered are: synergies with mitigation strategies; multi-level information exchange; promotion of improved governance at local levels; capacity building for human and social capitals including ethical issues, and strengthening of the science-policy interface.

The second day of the workshop focused on concepts and methods of vulnerability in the context of climate change. For the purpose of this course, the IPCC definition of vulnerability was used and the three components (exposition, sensitivity and adaptive capacity) were explained. In a case study from Ghana the effects of exposition and sensitivity on crops was explained, indicating for example the high vulnerability of cacao. Increasing adaptive capacity of eco- and human systems was presented as a strategy to reduce vulnerability and several examples were given. While for natural systems emphasis was placed on autonomous adaptation (enhanced for example through increased conservation efforts), for human systems both autonomous and planned adaptation mechanisms were discussed. These were related to access of local families and communities to seven types of assets (human, social, cultural, natural, financial, political and physical). In this context, the Community Based Risk Screening Tools for Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTAL) was discussed in detail. This tool was developed by IUCN, IISD, SEI-US and InterCooperation (

In the afternoon, stakeholder groups were formed to discuss a Cost Rica case study for the selection of preferred land use scenarios to reduce future impacts of expected increased rainfall intensity on sedimentation of a local river, and the likely effect on three hydro-electric power plants. The groups were asked to select one scenario, using a physical presentation of the result of each scenario (land use maps) and a technical evaluation report of each scenario, using a predetermined set of indicators. Based on the scenario and adaptation option discussions, as well as on their own experiences, the groups identified strategies for adaptation, as well as needs for further research. The research needs identified included:

(1) selection of species resistant to climate change;
(2) crop and animal husbandry techniques;
(3) addressing the opportunity costs of changes in production systems; and
(4) development techniques for monitoring water, biodiversity and human systems based on local baseline studies.  

The final discussion of the groups included clarification of concepts (exposure vs sensitivity; adaptation vs mitigation, etc.), real examples of adaptation worldwide (as in Bangladesh) and the international agenda for this issue, remembering that while climate change is a global problem, adaptation is based on local action.

In the workshop summary, Bastiaan Louman thanked all participants for their active participation and the lively, and academically stimulating discussions, the staff from IUFRO-SPDC and Korean organizations for their support, and wished the participants to keep in contact and use the newly gained knowledge in their own works.

This workshop has been successful because:
•    a platform was built among participants for future exchange and cooperation;
•    the latest technical knowledge discussed will assist in future adaptation works of
      participants; and
•    the workshop pursued holistic thinking, which can be enhanced by learning about
      trans-disciplinary, multi-scaled, process-based adaptation policies.

All in all, the workshop contributed to enhancing the working ability and skills of the participants in addressing climate change from the perspective of adaptation of forests and people to the impacts of global climate change conditions.

Participants' Evaluation

In total, 69 persons (32 women, 37 men) from 28 countries participated in the Training Workshops. Results of the training and satisfaction with the workshops were surveyed by an on-line questionnaire available to the participants during a period of one month after the Training Workshops. In total, 39 people responded to the request for comments.

In the survey, questions were addressed on the evaluation of 1) the individual thematic workshops, their content, difficulty, and value for the participants, 2) the additional skills training modules, and 3) the general organization and facilities of the Training Workshops.

Out of a total number of 39 responses, 14 commented on the Workshop on Forests and Climate Change.

All but one answers indicated that there was great satisfaction with the Workshop, underlining that it lived up to the expectations of the participants. Except for two negative answers, the relevance to the job of the participants was given, and all participants confirmed that they would be able to use well what they had learned.

General agreement was pointed out with regard to the Workshop objectives (two negative opinions), the added value from the training (one negative opinion), the pace of the Workshop (which for 29% of the participants could be increased) and the quality of preparation by the instructors (one negative opinion). The highest score was given for recommending the Workshop to colleagues (again with one negative opinion).

With regard to improving the Workshop, participants opted for making the activities more stimulating (70%), increasing both the content covered in the Workshop (57%) and the workshop time (43%).

Overall comments about the value of the Workshop highlighted that participants appreciated in particular the information gathered with regard to strategies for adaptation, the climate change adaptation models and networking. For a future Training they suggest to include more intensive training on models, more interactive activities and that each group would present a synthesis at the end of the week, so that participants of the other groups could obtain an overview of the other Training Workshops.