Adaptation and mitigation: Links

What are the links between mitigation and forest adaptation?
Forest mitigation projects (e.g., REDD+ projects) have the potential to facilitate the adaptation of forests to climate change by reducing anthropogenic pressures on forests, enhancing connectivity between forest areas and conserving biodiversity hotspots. However, mitigation projects may have to incorporate additional forest adaptation measures for reducing the impacts of climate change on these forests, as such impacts may jeopardise the permanence of carbon storage.

How can a mitigation project affect people’s adaptation?
Forest mitigation projects can have positive impacts on local livelihoods and their adaptive capacity. They can increase the provision of local ecosystem services to local communities, diversify incomes and economic activities, develop infrastructure or social services, and strengthen local institutions (Caplow et al. 2010). But impacts can be also negative. For example, concerns have been raised regarding the possibility that REDD+ projects restrict the rights and access of local people to land and forest resources, or increase the dependence of local people to insecure external funding.

How can an adaptation project contribute to mitigation?
Adaptation projects can directly affect ecosystems and carbon stocks, thus having an impact on mitigation. Ecosystem-based adaptation projects can directly benefit climate change mitigation, through either increasing or maintaining carbon stocks. The synergies between ecosystem services explain the mitigation impacts of an adaptation project; for example, mangroves simultaneously contribute to protecting coastal areas and to storing carbon. However, there may be trade-offs between carbon and the local ecosystem services prioritised by an adaptation project. For example, spatial priorities for the conservation of hydrological ecosystem services and carbon may be different.

In addition to these direct impacts of adaptation projects, other indirect impacts can result if an adaptation project prevents activity displacement and induced deforestation, for example if an agricultural adaptation project sustain crop productivity and reduce clearing forest through agricultural expansion.

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