People, forests and climate change
The ultimate solution to human-induced climate change is a low-carbon global economy, but that will take decades. In the meantime, protecting forests is an immediate action we can take to minimize the severity of climate change and prepare for unavoidable impacts.
Stopping global deforestation and degradation would decrease global CO2 emissions by 17% annually. The growth of new forests would store even more carbon. However, as decades of failed forest initiatives prove, reducing the rate of forest destruction is a daunting task.
Community Forestry to Mitigate Climate Change
With 450 million forest-dependent people in the Asia-Pacific region, the success of forest protection and building initiatives depends on local people as central actors. New initiatives such as REDD+ are increasingly recognizing their vital role and offering new opportunities to engage local people in the climate change fight. Community forestry is a proven and effective means of mobilizing and motivating local forest managers. As such, it can help ensure that local communities receive real incentives and fair rewards for managing forests sustainably and joining in efforts to mitigate climate change.
Community Forestry to Adapt to Climate Change
While it is still largely uncertain how climate change will affect natural ecosystems and human societies, we do know that Asia’s rural poor will be among the hardest hit. Access to quality water and food, and extreme floods and droughts are already massive challenges in this region, and climate change will make them bigger still.
Community forestry helps build the resilience of local communities by improving their access to additional sources of income, food, and other resources. Healthy forests also contribute to adaptation by providing environmental services. They protect watersheds and provide a buffer against landslides, floods, and other natural disasters, all of which are expected to increase with rising global temperatures.
In our work on forest-based responses to climate change, we:
- Identify significant opportunities, constraints, and risks for adaptation and mitigation
- Update and train key actors about these issues and developments
- Advocate for initiatives that enhance local peoples’ livelihoods
- Develop best practices for useful tools, methods, and approaches.