Climate change

Key messages


  • The world’s forests play a central role in combating climate change by absorbing and storing carbon from the  atmosphere in their vegetation and soils.
  • Almost as much carbon is stored in forests (650 billion tons) as in the atmosphere (760 billion tons).
  • Forests are crucial in helping us adapt to climate change as they help ensure water availability, protect against landslides, prevent desertification and provide alternative livelihoods for people.
  • Protecting forests conserves the biodiversity that is vital for plants, humans and other animals to adapt to climate change.   
  • Forests have four major roles in climate change: their clearance, overuse and degradation contribute about one-sixth of global carbon emissions; they react sensitively to a changing climate; when managed sustainably, they produce woodfuels as a benign alternative to fossil fuels; and finally, they have the potential to absorb about one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them - in principle in perpetuity. 


Sustainable forests: a powerful ally against climate change Climate change is subjecting our planet to unsustainable pressures. Forests and trees trap and store carbon as they grow – standing at the frontline against climate change. [more]
Turning the tide on desertification in Africa In Senegal, the Acacia project has involved the planting and managing of Acacia forests in arid lands helping combat desertification while providing life-changing benefits to local communities. [more]


 More videos


From reference levels to results reporting: REDD+ under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 27 October 2020 This report provides an update on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Plus1 (REDD+) forest reference (emission) levels (FREL/FRLs) and REDD+ results submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and relevant developments under the Green Climate Fund concerningREDD+ results-based payments. [more]
FAO framework methodology for climate change vulnerability assessments of forests and forest dependent people 4 December 2019 This publication provides practical technical guidance for forest vulnerability assessment in the context of climate change. It describes the elements that should be considered for different time horizons and outlines a structured approach for conducting these assessments. The framework will guide practitioners in conducting a step-by-step analysis and will facilitate the choice and use of appropriate tools and methods. [more]


 More publications

Press releases and editorials

Tackling climate change head-on 22 April 2021 If we want to tackle climate change, our agri-food systems are one of the key places to start. We need to look at the way we farm, the way we eat and the way we use our natural resources. Agriculture emits around one quarter of greenhouse gases, but it also holds many of the solutions to global climate goals. [more]
Global Climate Fund approves $160 million to support FAO-led projects 13 November 2020 The Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved three new FAO-designed projects in Argentina, Guatemala and Sudan for a total amount of $158.6 million aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening resilience to climate change, and combating deforestation. [more]
Helping countries better monitor and report on forest and land-use under the Paris Climate Agreement 12 December 2019 FAO today launched a new $7.1 million project supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to make forest data more accessible, transparent and available, and, in particular, help developing countries to meet the Paris Climate Agreement's enhanced transparency requirements. [more]


More press releases

Expert interviews

Mediterranean forests: recognizing a major asset in the global climate-change agenda 12 April 2019 Although Mediterranean forests are an important asset in the global agenda to combat climate change, to a certain extent their contributions have been overlooked. [more]
ASEAN Multi-Sectoral Framework on Climate Change is a unique platform for cross-sectoral dialogue 24 July 2018 Doris Capistrano, Senior Advisor, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change, explains how the ASEAN Multi-Sectoral Framework on Climate Change: Agriculture and Forestry towards Food Security (AFCC) is a unique platform. [more]


Towards a better conservation of forest resources in Viet Nam 
Monitoring carbon stocks in Tanzania 

last updated:  Wednesday, February 24, 2021