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FAO Report: Climate change guidelines for forest managers

The effects of climate change and climate variability on forest ecosystems are evident around the world and further impacts are unavoidable, at least in the short to medium term. Addressing the challenges posed by climate change will require adjustments to forest policies and changes to forest management plans and practices.

In 2010, FAO prepared guidelines to support policy-makers in integrating climate change concerns into new or existing forest policies and national forest programmes. This document serves as a companion to those 2010 guidelines. It has been prepared to assist forest managers to better assess and respond to climate change challenges and opportunities at the forest management unit level. Proposed actions are intended to be relevant to all kinds of forest manager – such as individual forest owners, private forest enterprises, public-sector agencies, indigenous groups and community forest organizations. The actions are applicable in all forest types in all regions and for all management objectives. They are generic, so their adaptation to local circumstances is required.

Adaptation and mitigation are the two main responses to climate change. Mitigation addresses the causes of climate change and adaptation its impacts. In the forest sector, adaptation encompasses changes in management practices designed to decrease the vulnerability of forests to climate change and interventions intended to reduce the vulnerability of people to climate change. Mitigation strategies in the forest sector can be grouped into four main categories: reducing emissions from deforestation; reducing emissions from forest degradation; enhancing forest carbon sinks; and product substitution.

Sustainable forest management (SFM) is consistent with climate change adaptation and mitigation and provides a comprehensive framework that can be adapted to changing circumstances. Efforts to advance towards SFM have provided a wealth of knowledge, experience, best-practice guidance, tools, mechanisms and partnerships that can be applied to help meet climate change challenges and which informs this document. Using SFM as an overall framework helps ensure that adaptation and mitigation measures are synergistic and balanced with other forest management objectives and take into consideration the economic, social and environmental values of forests.

This document provides guidance on what forest managers should consider in assessing vulnerability, risk, mitigation options, and actions for adaptation, mitigation and monitoring in response to climate change. Recommended actions for climate change adaptation address impacts on: forest productivity; biodiversity; water availability and quality; fire; pests and diseases; extreme weather events; sea-level rise; and economic, social and institutional considerations. A range of mitigation actions is provided, along with guidance on the additional monitoring and evaluation that may be required in forests in the face of climate change.

Read the full report at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3383e/i3383e.pdf