A short interview was done with the Chair of the Expert Panel on the International Forest Regime, Professor Jeremy Rayner, on the occasion of the first Expert Panel meeting in December 2009 in Vienna.
Only healthy forests can provide many important services upon which we rely – air quality and water cycle regulation; biodiversity and soil protection; carbon sequestration and mitigation of climate change, and social and cultural value.
Forest health has long been threatened by insect pests and diseases accidentally moved to new areas. More recently, climate change has become one of the greatest threats to forest and tree health, says Elena Paoletti, senior scientist at the Institute for Plant Protection of the National Council of Research of Italy. She adds “Climate change and air pollution pose new threats to forests and change their ability to tolerate stressors.”
Historically, climatic extremes, air pollution, insects and disease have been the main factors adversely affecting forest health. Understanding how these stress agents are affected by, and respond to climatic change is fundamental to our efforts to mitigate the impacts of a changing environment. Adaptive forest strategies must be developed.
She notes that, among other issues, climate change is resulting in the expansion of distribution ranges of some insect pests and pathogens. These range shifts have the potential to be permanent and to have significant implications on the future health of the world’s forests.
Dr. Paoletti will coordinate a sub-plenary session at the 2010 IUFRO World Congress in Seoul. The aim will be to update forest scientists and managers regarding new breakthroughs in the field of forest tree health and especially to better understand the multi-faceted aspects of climate change.
25 political scientists met in Vienna last week to start drafting the most comprehensive scientific report on the international forest regime. The report will be officially published in January 2011 on the occasion of the 9th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.
More specifically, the assessment aims to contribute to
- the international forest deliberations and international forest-related processes such as the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (January 2011), the tenth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (October 2010), and the discussion on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD);
- the improvement of coordination among political actors, policy instruments and institutions;
- the International Year of Forests 2011 by raising awareness about the role of international instruments and institutions affecting forests.
PHOTOS FROM THE FIRST MEETING
2nd in a series of releases relating to the XXIII IUFRO World Congress
(Vienna, 21 December 2009) – The forest sector has huge potential to mitigate the effects of climate change at low costs. The reason is that trees provide one proven way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
That opportunity makes it critically important to understand exactly which forest-related activities can contribute to mitigation benefits. Such understanding will then lead to a science-based dialogue about which activities contribute to climate change mitigation and which may make it worse. That will then lead to tools to support informed, responsible policy development.
“Reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation is the most important first step, because it has an immediate impact,” says Dr. Werner Kurz, of the Canadian Forest Service, who notes that in the ‘90s, deforestation emissions globally were found to contribute an amount equivalent to about 20% of fossil fuel emissions.
Dr. Kurz, who will coordinate a session to explore the potential of forest sector activities to mitigate climate change at the 2010 IUFRO World Forestry Congress in Seoul, adds: “Biomass derived from forests contributes to meeting society’s demands for timber, fibre and energy. But further analyses are needed to help identify and implement the climate mitigation activities that deliver the greatest climate mitigation benefits.”
The issues are challenging and will foster lively, heated, discussion. As an example, some argue for conservation – keep the carbon in the forest because today’s carbon is what matters in the atmosphere. Others argue, among other things, using harvested biomass to store carbon in wood products and to use biomass from harvest residues or bioenergy plantations as sources of bioenergy to substitute for fossil fuels. To design an effective climate mitigation portfolio, carbon costs and benefits and their dynamics must be quantified over time, Kurz says.
Boreal forests are especially sensitive to global warming and are likely to be severely affected by climate change.
In international climate change negotiations, forest-related deliberations have so far mainly focused on mitigation, rather than adaptation. However, in the particularly vulnerable boreal regions, climate change is progressing too quickly to postpone adaptation action. Flexible approaches tailored to local situations must go hand in hand with substantial reductions of carbon emissions from fossil fuel and deforestation. Otherwise forests are at high risk of entirely losing their carbon-regulating services. This would, in turn, seriously accelerate climate change, a fact that has not yet been fully considered in current model generation.
Learning Event – Organized by IUFRO and EFI (European Forest Institute) During Forest Day 3 in Copenhagen (UNFCCC-COP15)
Boreal and temperate forests are likely to be particularly affected by climate change because they are generally temperature-limited. With climate change advancing, their role as a major sink for atmospheric carbon is at risk. This session informed participants about this and other key impacts and vulnerabilities and discussed adaptation priorities and implications for forest management. The learning session also explored how lessons from the EU programme Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) could be used for forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation.
A side event organized during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15)
This joint event organized by IUFRO, ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) and Intercooperation (Swiss Foundation for Development and International Cooperation) will address the ongoing and new activities to promote social, economic and environmental benefits of forests that contribute to sustainable livelihoods in the framework of climate change mitigation, adaptation and ecosystem restoration.
Introduction to the side event (Mr. Alexander Buck, IUFRO Deputy Executive Director)
International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
ITTO Thematic Programme on REDDES (Mr. Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director of ITTO)
Voluntary Forest Carbon Offset Projects in Japan (Mr. Noriuki Kobayashi, Professor of Nihon University Law School, Japan)
Public-Private Partnership to promote REDD+ in Meru Betiri National Park, Indonesia (Ms. Nur Masripatin, Director of FORDA, MoF, Indonesia)
Making REDD Happen in Reality – Experiences from the REDD-FORECA Pilot Project in Madagascar (Ms. Julia Randimbisoa – Climate change focal point in Madagascar)
International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)
Will Forests Be Able to Stand the Heat? Main results of a global assessment (Mr. Peter Mayer, IUFRO Executive Director)
Making African Forests Fit for Climate Change – Key messages to policy and decision makers (Mr. Stephy David Makungwa, Chair of thematic group “Forests and Climate Change” of the Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa)
Over-exploitation for wood and fuel, land conversion to agriculture, forest fire, expansion of desert areas, drought and illegal logging, in the past, were among the factors that have caused major degradation of Asia’s forests.
More recently, as awareness of the problems and excesses grew, efforts at rehabilitation began to emerge. Some of the rehabilitation successes started with government programs then spread to industry, non-government organizations and local communities.
The growing economies in Asia, home of 14% of the world’s forests and more than 60% of its population, create many challenges and opportunities – economically, environmentally and socially – for the forests, which play important roles in these countries.
Forest scientists from various regions in Asia, who have responded to this challenge through an initiative called Keep Asia Green, will be among those discussing at the 2010 IUFRO World Congress in Seoul the history, current status, success and failures of forest rehabilitation efforts in their countries.
“The Seoul discussions around Keep Asia Green – the lessons learned and success stories – will allow those from any part of the world confronted with the degradation of forests, to assess what approaches could be adopted and applied successfully to address the challenges they face at home”, says IUFRO President Professor Don K. Lee.
The celebration of 60 years of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, IUFRO, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, took place in conjunction with the XIII World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
There has been long history of collaboration between IUFRO and FAO, which started with the signing of the MOU in 1949. FAO started working with International NGO’s shortly after its creation in the mid-1940s and at that time, it was even considered to incorporate IUFRO into FAO in order to formulate research aims more clearly, to avoid duplication of research projects, and to reduce costs.
While this consideration was not put into practice, in 1949 IUFRO worked out an agreement with the Forestry Department of FAO whereby IUFRO retained its independent status, but had a specialized consultative status with FAO. To this day, FAO has observer status on IUFRO’s Board (representation usually is through its Assistant Director General, in 2009, Jan Heino).
FAO and IUFRO are both committed to collaborate in some of the projects and programs with among others, the theme of forest education, forest terminology, and the role of science in national forest programs. Many IUFRO activities have been supported and until now are being assisted by FAO. For instance, IUFRO’s Special Program for Developing Countries (IUFRO-SPDC) was jointly established by IUFRO and FAO in 1983 and has since then served as a mechanism for research capacity development. Through IUFRO-SPDC, IUFRO provides assistance for the long-term development of the capacities of individual scientists and research institutions in developing countries. Together they have focused on the Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa (FORNESSA).
During the last years, FAO and IUFRO have actively worked in the frame of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). IUFRO as the leading organization of the Global Forest Information Service (GFIS) and the Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) highly appreciates the effort of FAO as chair organization of the CPF.
Please leave your comments on this article and to find out more information about IUFRO-FAO collaborations, we encourage you to visit IUFRO’s website.
Human well-being is highly dependent on the well-being of the world’s forests. Among many other benefits, forests provide the resource for building materials and renewable energy, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They also protect against erosion and influence local and global climate. Many medicines are derived from forest plants.
The XXIII IUFRO World Congress from 23-28 August 2010 in Seoul, Korea, will be a great opportunity for researchers and decision-makers to learn, to share best practices, and to synthesize the newest and most innovative thinking on the forest challenges that affect all of us. Read more…