Flagship 4: Climate change adaptation and mitigation
Better management of forests, tree resources and their genetic diversity is an effective response to many of the challenges of climate change. The contribution of forests and trees to carbon sequestration and mitigation of emissions is widely recognized, e.g. in the international negotiations on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).
Land-use change, including tropical deforestation, is a significant source of carbon emissions and an active contributor to climate change. Some studies have estimated emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to be about 12% of the current total anthropogenic emissions (15% if peatlands are included).
Finding ways to maintain terrestrial carbon pools and to reduce carbon emissions from land-use change are key elements in negotiations and climate agreements.
As the concept of REDD+ is relatively new and rapidly evolving, and models for its implementation are still under discussion, reliable baseline data are not yet available. There is growing recognition of the need to also address critical non-carbon dimensions of REDD+ implementation encompassing forest governance, rights of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities, including women, and tenure.
Forests, trees and their genetic diversity provide ecosystem services that facilitate the adaptation of local people, whole economies and societies to climate change. Therefore they are a key component of ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA).
Flagship project 4 focuses on providing the knowledge and tools needed to enhance the role of forests, trees and their genetic diversity in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Research addresses
- technical, livelihood and governance challenges, including the modeling and monitoring of carbon stocks
- the impacts of climate change
- the equitable, effective and efficient implementation of REDD+ and adaptation initiatives (including their differentiated impacts on gender groups)
- agricultural intensification as a strategy for achieving REDD+ and enhancing other ecosystem services, and
- the inclusion of forests and trees in strategies to reduce social vulnerability.
Research under this component also deals with the linkages between mitigation and adaptation, especially potential synergies or conflicts, and interactions with development plans and institutions in order to maximize their efficiency.
Agroforestry, which already harnesses the benefits of trees for agriculture, provides a good example of a strategy for mitigation and adaptation, as trees sequester carbon and can increase the resilience of agricultural systems by providing both income and production security.
The research is structured along three themes:
1) Harnessing forests, trees and agroforestry for climate change mitigation
2) Enhancing climate change adaptation through forests, trees and agroforestry
3) Understanding the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in achieving synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation
 Kok MTJ and de Coninck HC. 2007. Widening the scope of policies to address climate change: directions for mainstreaming. Environmental Science and Policy 10(7–8):587–599.