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]
Action Against Desertification Over the next decade, 50 million people may be displaced by desertification - the result of climate change and the depletion of natural resources. [more]
Soil Carbon Monitoring in Tanzania Deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries account for nearly 20% of green house gas emissions worldwide, which is why estimating and reducing these emissions has become a key goal for the international community. [more]


 All climate change videos


Climate change for forest policy-makers This document has been developed to help forest policy-makers integrate climate change into existing national forest policy. It uses 'good governance' as a driving principle and overall framework. It also encourages policy-makers to address forestry issues in a consistent manner in all national climate change strategies, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and other related policies and plans. [more]
Valuing forest ecosystem services: a training manual for planners and project developers The degradation of ecosystems, including forests, and the associated loss of biodiversity, particularly due to human-induced threats and climate change, has gained increased attention from scientists and policymakers. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment presented a new conceptual framework that puts ecosystem services at the centre and links human well-being to the impacts on ecosystems of changes in natural resources. [more]
FAO's work on climate change: Forests and Climate Change The publication aims to provide a broad range of data and statistics on forests, and the impact and benefits that forestry has on our environment. It also offers some general information and data about the impact forests and forestry can have in mitigating the effects of climate change, as well as information concerning how they are, in turn, affected by climate change. [more]


 More publications

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]

Press releases

Global transformation of forests for people and climate: A focus on West Africa. The Project’s Steering Committee meets in Dakar A one-day Steering Committee Meeting took place in Dakar, Senegal on 25 September to discuss the activities under the project “Global transformation of forests for people and climate: A focus on West Africa”. [more]
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 More press releases


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

last updated:  Thursday, August 1, 2019