The climate is changing - and the effects are already being felt. At least according to new reports from the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, the US National Climate Assessment, and others.
Often the two possible responses to the problem - mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases or adapting to the changes their accumulation will bring - are discussed as two alternative, separate mechanisms. We can either reduce emissions or get ready for the consequences. At this point, as it appears likely we will experience some manner of dangerous climate change already, many suggest we should be doing both at the same time.
What if one action could do both? Forest landscape restoration may be such an action.
By restoring degraded forest lands we can make whole regions of the world, and the communities who live within them, more resilient to the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, new, healthy trees growing across a large-scale landscapes offer the potential to capture carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas of concern, and store it in woody biomass for generations to come.
With this in mind IUCN's Forest Conservation Programme, in collaboration with the Ecosystem Management Programme, will examine the linkages between adaptation and mitigation at the global policy level with an eye towards where restoration can play a role in bridging both. We hope to develop case studies that explore these linkages, particularly where restoration can serve national goals on mitigation and adaptation in seven priority countries (India, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Vietnam, El Salvador and Mexico). Our study will eventually provide recommendations for integrated mitigation-adaptation options at international and national policy levels.
This study will be an important first step toward improving global understanding of mitigation-adaptation synergies, and how restoration can be one strong answer to both.