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.
The Forests and Climate Change team also recommends:
Through FAO support, forest users in Mongolia are able to reverse deforestation. Within this context, FAO works for herders in five Mongolian provinces to improve forest management, as well as improve the livelihoods of herders. This initiative has been possible through cooperation with Mongolia's government and funding from the Government of the Netherlands.
- Forest rangers patrol forested hills as members of forest user groups, mainly established through the support of FAO and local authorities. For instance, they maintain a continuous lookout for scenes indicating illegal logging activities, forest fires or any other disturbances.
- Group members receive training in forest assessment, mapping, management planning and in the marketing of forest products. This allows user groups to develop their own forest management plans, according to their community's needs and goals.
- This participatory forest management project has changed the way Mongolians interact with their forests, while at the same time allowing forest regeneration to take place.
FAO's forest and climate change program works to enhance national and international action on forests and climate change adaptation and mitigation. This is achieved through the strengthening of technical capacities and collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, such as international organizations, NGOs and academics.
On request from member countries, FAO provides support on forest and climate change. This is done through workshops and information materials (publications and policy briefs). The program has developed guidelines to assist countries integrate climate change at the policy level and is in the process of finalizing guidelines at the field level.