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. 

Video

Publications

Forests, rangelands and climate change in Southern Africa 16 October 2013 This report provides an overview of the actual and potential impacts of climate change on forest and rangeland resources in southern Africa, reviews related efforts under way in the countries and the region to respond to climate change, and identifies areas of potential cooperation among countries in the region. [more]
Climate change guidelines for forest managers 26 September 2013 These guidelines have been prepared to assist forest managers to better assess and respond to climate change challenges and opportunities at the forest management unit level. The actions they propose are relevant to all kinds of forest managers – such as individual forest owners, private forest enterprises, public-sector agencies, indigenous groups and community forest organizations. [more]
FAO, forests and climate change 26 September 2012 This publication summarizes the work that FAO is undertaking, with its partners, to assist countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change as it relates to forests, trees and the people who depend on them. [more]
Forest management and climate change: stakeholder perceptions 18 May 2012 FAO, in collaboration with forest management, climate change experts and relevant stakeholders, is developing guidelines to assist forest managers to effectively respond to climate change challenges and opportunities. These guidelines will include actions related to both climate change adaptation and mitigation and will be relevant to all types of forests, all management objectives and all types of managers. To facilitate the development of the guidelines, a survey was conducted through which forest stakeholders provided their views and perceptions on factors that influence the ability of forest managers to respond to climate change. This publication presents the results of the survey. [more]
Wildlife in a changing climate 5 December 2011 Wildlife in a Changing Climate foresees that the rate of loss of wild animal species will be accelerated by climate change unless urgent measures are taken. Particularly at risk are wildlife and ecosystems in coastal and mountain areas, while Africa, where a mean temperature rise of 3-4 °C is expected by the end of the century, is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions. Using case studies, the report puts forward a series of responsive measures to mitigate the impact of climate change. [more]

Audio

Towards a better conservation of forest resources in Viet Nam
Duration: 4 min

Monitoring carbon stocks in TanzaniaDuration: 4min.27sec Format: mp3

The Forests and Climate Change team also recommends:

Field projects

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.    

 
last updated:  Friday, September 19, 2014