Using Forests to Enhance Resilience to Climate Change

What do we know about how forests can contribute to adaptation?

Bruno Locatelli

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has gathered substantial evidence on current and projected impacts of climate change across geographies, ecosystems, and sectors. Even under the most stringent mitigation scenarios, the world’s temperature will continue to increase, rendering adaptation strategies a necessity for long-term local and national planning.


A focus on long-term adaptation strategies must not, however, eclipse the need to address severe challenges posed by current, aggravated climate variability. Although there are significant sub-regional differences, rainfall in Africa has declined over the past half century and drought events are manifesting a trend of heightened annual and seasonal variability. Southeast Asia has endured climate extremes that include monsoons, tropical cyclones, El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation events, extreme variability in rainfall, and very high temperatures. Future climate change, coupled with a variety of anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems (for example, deforestation due to land conversion, pollution, or human development in floodplains), will only exacerbate these effects.

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