Thinking beyond the canopy

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Forests and trees for social adaptation to climate variability and change

 

Ecosystems provide important services that can help people adapt to climate variabilityand change. Recognizing this role of ecosystems, several international andnongovernmental organizations have promoted an ecosystem-based approachto adaptation. We review the scientific literature related to ecosystem-basedadaptation (EBA) with forests and trees, and highlight five cases in which forestsand trees can support adaptation: (1) forests and trees providing goods to localcommunities facing climatic threats; (2) trees in agricultural fields regulatingwater, soil, andmicroclimate formore resilient production; (3) forested watershedsregulating water and protecting soils for reduced climate impacts; (4) forestsprotecting coastal areas from climate-related threats; and (5) urban forests andtrees regulating temperature and water for resilient cities. The literature providesevidence that EBA with forests and trees can reduce social vulnerability to climatehazards; however, uncertainties and knowledge gaps remain, particularly for regulatingservices in watersheds and coastal areas. Few studies have been undertakenon EBA specifically, but the abundant literature on ecosystem services can be usedto fill knowledge gaps.Many studies assess themultiple benefits of ecosystems forhuman adaptation or well-being, but also recognize trade-offs between ecosystemservices. Better understanding is needed of the efficiency, costs, and benefits,and trade-offs of EBA with forests and trees. Pilot projects under implementationcould serve as learning sites and existing information could be systematized andrevisited with a climate change adaptation lens

Topic:

  climatic change, adaptation, Non Timber Forest Products, ecosystem management, watersheds, coastal areas

Journal Title:

  Wiley interdisciplinary reviews: climate change

Volume:

  3

Number:

  6

Pages:

   581–596

Publication Year:

  2012

Language:

  English

ISSN:

  1757-7799

DOI:

  10.1002/wcc.195