Climate change adaptation

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Adaptation of people and forests to climate change

Forests, trees and agroforestry already play a key role in ensuring the resilience of landscapes and households to physical and economic risks. With climate change, this function will be more important than ever. At the same time, land-based economic activities in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Adaptation is urgently needed. FTA addresses how forests, trees and agroforestry can adapt to climate change, and how forests and trees can help people and livelihoods adapt to climate change.

Some tree-crop commodities (such as cocoa and coffee) are particularly sensitive to climate change. FTA works with partners to integrate climate change predictions on tree suitability areas, as well as on appropriate ‘climate proof’ tree germplasm and intervention options, including appropriate incorporation and management of companion trees. FTA works on agroforestry in the context of climate change and on the potential for using shade trees to improve microclimates and improve productivity.

Increasing resilience to climate change has re-established the importance of diversity breeding and decentralized participatory domestication approaches, which consider production traits enhanced by genetic variation and which use local landscape-level deployment to maintain planting material diversity. FTA research indicates how tree planting patterns will need to change and the modifications that will be required to deliver planting material for climate-smart agricultural and restoration-based responses. FTA works on finding important tree traits for adaption, including new trait combinations for novel environments, and uses climate models to indicate planting domain shifts under future climates.

As climate change advances, with deepening and lengthening dry spells in the seasonally dry tropics, trees and shrubs are increasingly seen as a supplementary fodder source. Heat stress is an increasing cause of animal production loss and a major animal welfare challenge. FTA works with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on how to best develop multistrata silvopastoral systems, live fences, windbreaks and fodder banks as key development options to sustain smallholder livelihoods based on pasture use in the context of climate change.

Furthermore, to combine climate risk reduction with increased resilience, FTA uses empirical research supporting policy integration, practice and assessment at local, national and international levels. FTA seeks to advance knowledge on synergies between, and incentives for, mitigation and adaptation approaches as recognized under Joint Mitigation and Adaptation (JMA) in the Paris Agreement.

Current and planned key research activities on adaptation are:
Joint Mitigation and Adaptation (JMA): Studies on synergies and tradeoffs between mitigation and adaptation in support of the Paris Agreement
Site-matched, ‘future-proofed’ tree-planting material, with high adaptive capacity, including for landscape restoration, reforestation and agroforestry
Livestock: Multistrata silvopastoral systems in the context of climate change
Vulnerability: Assessment of potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity, ecological functions and ecosystem services to assess risks and vulnerability of both forests and people (by gender), and contribution of analysis to the ‘loss and damage’ debate
Risk: Identifying options to reduce climate-related risks, analyzing tradeoffs, exploring adaptation economics, developing adaptive capacity of social groups (by gender) and supporting climate-smart agriculture
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA): Study of mechanisms (e.g. land-use planning, multistakeholder dialogues) that strengthen local capacity (by gender) to respond to climate change and variability, and their integration into national development and adaptation plans (National Adaptation Plans and National Adaptation Programs of Action) across scales
Assessment: Developing and testing approaches to measure and monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of EbA actions in reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience
Data for risk reduction: Experimentation with and development of flexible, data-driven approaches that emphasize flexibility and heterogeneity as risk reduction strategies and feedback-based policy responses

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