The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fourth assessment report (AR4) has just been completed in 2007 and the three volumes (in correspondence to the three working groups “The Physical science basis”, “Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” and “Mitigation”) are the important reference in the scientific community.
The link between GES emissions and global warming is now well-known. The understanding of global warming linked with the increase of greenhouse gas emissions is provided with many scientific data.
The impacts of climate change on ecosystems, particularly the impacts of climate change on forests affect and will affect the productivity of forests, the preservation of soil, water regime (droughts in summer and soil hydromorphy in winter and spring, floods), biodiversity, environmental services, etc. Many scientific monitoring programs on forest led for two decades have helped to enrich several existing data basis.
Avoiding climate change impacts will be not possible in the future; adaptation measures have to be developed.
Mitigation is the only well-known way to fight against the climate change, particularly the green house effect, and forests will play a significant role in those mitigation actions.
It consists in reducing the anthropic part of the green house effect, and consequently the global warming. Through the sequestration of carbon in forests by the way of photosynthesis, forestry plays a key role in the mitigation process. Another important contribution of wood is the lower energy consumption then its transformation (compared to aluminium, concrete, etc.) and moreover, wood is the best renewable energy.
Socio economic scenarios (SRES scenarios): the large range of scenarios existing to fight the process, clearly shows the importance of the question. Some better scenarios are still expected.
Climate models: the needs of true models as a basis of reflexion for scientists and decision makers are still lacking. Several current projects are currently led but the results are still expected.
Vegetation models: several current projects are currently led but the results are still expected.
Sequestration and substitution: current research is done on these subjects but the way to manage an efficient sequestration, its impacts and consequences on the ecosystems, economy and society aren’t known yet.
What should be done…
Main objectives: to mobilize and integrate the existing scientific knowledge for European forest policymakers and managers
- Suggesting ways to improve the capacities of prediction about the future of the forest and measuring the importance of unavoidable uncertainties and adapting to them;
- Elaborating the IPCC objectives concerning the European forest context and supplying a European forest contribution for the next assessment report;
- Supplying a European forest contribution in the frame of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period;
- Identifying the needs on future research and development projects.
And how …
The “Action Triangle”: impacts, adaptation and mitigation
The sensitivity of forests determines the potential impacts of climate change and depends on the socio-economic scenario, on the time scale considered and the location.
Forest vulnerability is the result of potential impacts and adaptation capacities on the political and management levels. If impacts can be limited in a short term, forests will be able to mitigate long-term global warming with emission reductions and carbon sinks. This negative feedback will be able to modify the socio-economic scenarios, the atmospheric composition and the climate. Finally, in front of climate change, the forest system can be viewed according to an “Action Triangle”.
– The maintenance of the forest status. It is certainly the least demanding criterion but it largely determines soil and water protection and most of forest tourism and recreation;
– The production and sequestration capacities of wood and carbon. Requiring the conservation of certain productivity;
– The conservation or enhancement of forest biodiversity.
Transversality and specificities
Conceptual progress on interactions between impacts of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.
Continuous improvement process
Monitoring networks make it possible to know the impacts of climate change. The observed mechanisms are analysed by research on ecosystems and integrated into models. Policymakers could then define the institutional framework of forest management which produces effects observed through the monitoring networks.
More about Action COST Echoes : http://www.gip-ecofor.org/cost-echoes-climate-change/.