How trees and people can co-adapt to climate change

Published on January 1, 2011 | Author: Meine Van Noordwijk, Minh Ha Hoang, Henry Neufeldt, Ingrid Öborn, Thomas Yatich

Climate changes, especially increased variability, affect landscapes, human livelihoods and trees in many ways. They are the consequence of a wider set of global change issues, including population increase, more consumption per capita and trade globalisation. Both people and trees can adapt to change at various time scales, but the current rate of change implies that pro-active planning as part of integrated rural development is needed. Lessons learnt from ‘best practices’ of rural development and natural resources management in the tropics suggest development strategies that can be shared more widely in the field and relevant research to support their refinement. In the current climate-change debates, ‘trees’ have received surprisingly little attention, while the issues of sustainable forest management are only beginning to appear on the agenda. Where national adaptation plans are made for developing countries, trees and forests both deserve full attention. Jointly, they are part of ‘multifunctional landscapes’.

This book focuses on the relationship between climate-change adaptation, rural development and the roles of trees and agroforestry. Rewards’ schemes for environmental services (RES) in multifunctional landscapes, which provide incentives for maintaining or restoring multifunctionality, will contribute to a likely reduction in vulnerability to climate change. Rewards may well be an efficient and fair way of investing international funds in climate-change adaptation. The voluntary, conditional and pro-poor aspects of RES will also help to bring the voice of grass- roots stakeholders into international and national decision-making processes on how to deal with climate change. That can ensure realism and efficiency in climate-change adaptation, which is yet another strand to be integrated in rural development programs. The argument for such an approach is built on the underlying concepts of climate change, rural livelihoods and multifunctionality of landscapes, as well as the specific roles of trees and farmers as providers of environmental services in agricultural landscapes. However, trees themselves are vulnerable to climate change and co-adaptation is needed and is possible.

The emerging experience and findings of on-going action research in Asian and African countries on climate change, agroforestry and rewards or payments for environmental services (RES/PES) are introduced in the book to highlight these arguments. The experience that RES/PES can create effective, efficient and fair incentives for enhancement of the environment is used to explore how climate-change adaptation funds could be channelled to support local initiatives, within realistic, conditional, voluntary and pro-poor incentive mechanisms.

Priority areas for action and hypotheses for further research are identified, involving the roles of trees in modifying micro- and mesoclimates, refining the operational rules for use of climate- change adaptation funds, institutional expansion of the (already tested) rapid appraisal methods that acknowledge multiple knowledge systems and perceptions, analysing the risks to local livelihoods in ecological and environmental economics frameworks posed by climate change and trade globalisation and new approaches to integrate the space-time dynamics of landscape functions in socio-ecological-political-economy systems.
Van Noordwijk, M., Hoang, M.H., Neufeldt, H., Öborn, I. & Yatich, T. (eds). (2011). How trees and people can co-adapt to climate change: reducing vulnerability through multifunctional agroforestry landscapes. Nairobi: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

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