Adapting to climate change a major challenge for forests

Adapting to climate change a major challenge for forests.
In Switzerland, temperatures have already risen by around 1.9°C since the beginning of industrialization.
Even keeping global warming down to the 1.5-2°C target set by the Paris Agreement on climate change will yield a further increase of 1-2°C.
For the Swiss forests, this warming trend will involve vegetation zones shifting 500‑700 metres higher in altitude.
Foresters and forest owners should already tailor the management of their forests to these future conditions.
Safeguarding forest functions against the backdrop of climate change The research results show that while forests can adapt to climate change to a certain extent, they are unlikely to be capable of continuing to perform their functions — so natural-hazard protection, the increasingly vital production of timber as a renewable raw material and energy source or their recreational function — everywhere to the extent we have become used to.
To avert the loss of such functions, the research programme devised various management strategies adapted to changing climatic conditions.
In particular, they result in a greater increase in the diversity of the tree species.
These conditions are changing from site to site and must be viewed in the context of the management of the forest.
In this way, for example, areas in high-resolution site maps can be shown where the climate-sensitive Norway spruce can continue to thrive (box 2).

The Relentless March of Drought – That ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse’

The Relentless March of Drought – That ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse’.
To mitigate these impacts, drought preparedness that responds to human needs, while preserving environmental quality and ecosystems, requires involvement of all stakeholders including water users and water providers to achieve solutions for drought, explains UNCCD.
“Drought, a complex and slowly encroaching natural hazard with significant and pervasive socio-economic and environmental impacts, is known to cause more deaths and displace more people than any other natural disaster.” Drought, Water Scarcity and Refugees On this, Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, reminds that the world’s drought-prone and water scarce regions are often the main sources of refugees.
“Converging factors like political tension, weak institutions, economic marginalisation, lack of social safety nets or group rivalries create the conditions that make people unable to cope.
According to Convention, the geo-political and security challenges the world faces are complex, but a better implementing good land management practices can simultaneously help populations adapt to climate change and build resilience to drought; reduce the risk of forced migration and conflict over dwindling natural resources and secure sustainable agricultural and energy production.
“Land truly is the glue that holds our societies together.
Reversing the effects of land degradation and desertification through sustainable land management (SLM) is not only achievable; it is the logical, cost-effective next step for national and international development agendas…” UNCCD informs that 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain.
“We cannot afford to keep degrading land when we are expected to increase food production by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed the entire world population.” “Sustainable intensification of food production, with fewer inputs, that avoids further deforestation and cropland expansion into vulnerable areas should be a priority for action for policy makers, investors and smallholder farmers.” Meantime, the Convention’s secretariat reports that the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store.
Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.” National Security, Migration With up to 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources, the exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts, according to UNCCD.
Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, it adds and explains that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.

Increasing cost of natural hazards as climate changes

A new comprehensive study of Australian natural hazards paints a picture of increasing heatwaves and extreme bushfires as this century progresses, but with much more uncertainty about the future of storms and rainfall.
Published in a special issue of the international journal Climatic Change, the study documents the historical record and projected change of seven natural hazards in Australia: flood; storms (including wind and hail); coastal extremes; drought; heatwave; bushfire; and frost.
"Temperature-related hazards, particularly heatwaves and bushfires, are increasing, and projections show a high level of agreement that we will continue to see these hazards become more extreme into the 21st century," says special issue editor Associate Professor Seth Westra, Head of the Intelligent Water Decisions group at the University of Adelaide.
"The study documents our current understanding of the relationship between historical and possible future climatic change with the frequency and severity of Australian natural hazards," says Associate Professor Westra.
"These hazards cause multiple impacts on humans and the environment and collectively account for 93% of Australian insured losses, and that does not even include drought losses.
The biggest risk from climate change is if we continue to plan as though there will be no change.
One thing is certain: our environment will continue to change."
• Heatwaves are Australia’s most deadly natural hazard, causing 55% of all natural disaster related deaths and increasing trends in heatwave intensity, frequency and duration are projected to continue throughout the 21st century.
• The costs of flooding have increased significantly in recent decades, but factors behind this increase include changes in reporting mechanisms, population, land-use, infrastructure as well as extreme rainfall events.
The physical size of floods has either not changed at all, or even decreased in many parts of the country.