Using Forests to Enhance Resilience to Climate Change: The Case of smallholder agriculture in Savannakhet Province in Lao PDR

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The 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report observes that the mean annual temperature increased over the past century in Southeast Asia. The projections are that average changes in mean annual temperature will exceed 3oC in Southeast Asia. The increased occurrence of floods, droughts, and changes in the seasonal rainfall pattern are expected to have negative impacts on crop yields, food security, and livelihoods in vulnerable areas. In parts of Southeast Asia, climate change could exacerbate existing levels of poverty because of the changes in rice crop production and increases in food prices and the cost of living. The consequence of climate change, however, will vary across countries in the region.

In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), climate change is expected to modify the frequency, intensity, and location of existing climate hazards, straining existing common coping mechanisms-especially for people living in rural and remote places. With regards to chronic changes, efforts to enhance resilience could result in rewards. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) measures can be suitable for enhancing resilience to climate change, especially for sectors that rely on natural systems. EBA uses biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of a general adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. This concept is based on the idea that ecosystem services reduce the vulnerability of society to climate change across sectors and subsectors. These measures can complement other adaptation measures and often generate co-benefits for the implementing households.

Poor farmers are the most vulnerable group in Lao society. This report, one in a series of studies, explores how forests can reduce the vulnerability of this segment of the Lao PDR population.6 It looks at how forests, through the provision of ecosystem services, contribute to adaptation of other sectors to climate change and aid the adaptation of poor smallholder agriculture households in the southern part of Lao PDR. The objective is to bring evidence to discussions among decision makers in government and development partner organizations about the linkages between agriculture and forests in the context of climate change (that is, about the role of forests in enhancing the resilience of an agricultural subsector) and to examine the implications for development and enhancing resilience to climate change in Lao PDR.


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