Forests perform a huge range of functions critical to a healthy biosphere

Photo credit : WVC 1999 PENRITH1 copy.jpg

Field work for the Olympic Games in Sydney (Australia) – The Penrith area.

 

Research helps forests adapt to and mitigate a changing climate

“Resilient and diverse forests are critical to maintaining a livable planet.” This simple statement encapsulates both a potential tragedy, if underestimated, and a critical imperative for humanity if fully accepted: which is to conserve and restore the planet’s forests in the face of rapidly growing threats.

Forests perform a huge range of functions critical to a healthy biosphere. They stabilize soils, maintain moisture levels and fertility and are home to a vast diversity of plant, animal and microbial species, many of which sustain nearby human communities. Forests also sequester carbon and produce oxygen, and so are critical to a stable climate and a breathable atmosphere.

Maintaining and expanding natural forest cover is therefore an essential component of an intelligent response to the climate crisis. However, given the rapidity with which the climate is changing and the impacts of these changes on tree populations, it also presents a complexity of challenges.

Research spanning two decades and multiple continents, which has been reviewed in the recent article, The role of forest genetic resources in responding to biotic and abiotic factors in the context of anthropogenic climate change — part of the Forest Genetic Resources series in a special edition of the Forest Ecology & Management journal — sets out these challenges and points to strategies for addressing them when undertaking conservation and restoration projects.

Dr Judy Loo, Leader of Bioversity International’s Forest Genetic Resources and Restoration Science Domain, who made the above statement, is one of the authors of the article. “Resilience,” she explains, “comes from the ability to adapt to change; that ability comes largely from genetic diversity.”

Species respond to a changing environment by means of one of three processes. The first is migration, in which a population moves over time to a more amenable environment.

 

Read the full article: Bioversity International

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Regenerative agricultural practices that protect soils

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Make soil a solution to climate change !

Global leaders have gathered in Paris to negotiate a climate agreement that will influence climate actions throughout the world.  We have the science showing that organically managed soils have the potential to be a powerful ally in this process. On World Soil Day, IFOAM – Organics International calls on leaders to include regenerative agricultural practices that protect soils in their solutions to climate change.

Healthy soils are key to biodiversity, food security and play a fundamental role in fighting climate change. Carbon-rich soils are like sponges absorbing water during floods and releasing it during drought. Yet when soils are damaged, they release CO2. Organic farming puts carbon back into soils by keeping them covered with plants, increasing crop diversity, composting and carefully planned grazing.

We can heal the soil by transitioning to organic agriculture, ending their chemical-induced depletion and strengthening their potential as carbon-consuming sinks.

In a step toward ensuring this, IFOAM – Organics International has signed the “4 per 1000”(link is external) Initiative which aims to improve the organic matter content and promote carbon sequestration in soils through the application of agricultural practices. Other signatories include ministers from Australia, Germany and France as well as international organizations such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Resources Institute.

With the end of the International Year of Soils, IFOAM – Organics International calls on world leaders to put policies and incentives in place to empower farmers to make their farms resilient and become stewards of soils.

 

Contacts and Links

Read the text: IFOAM

Bamboo ideal for removing carbon from atmosphere

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Flickr/Wu Zhiyi/World Bank

 

China promises boost to African bamboo expertise

by Keya Archarya

“Bamboo should now become a South-South-North dynamic for climate change initiatives using China’s expertise in managing this sector.” – Hans Friederich, INBAR

Speed read

  • Network aims to transfer knowledge about novel products
  • Bamboo’s fast growth make it ideal for removing carbon from atmosphere
  • Money will come from Chinese fund to fight climate change

China aims to increase Africa’s expertise in novel bamboo products through a new knowledge exchange network, it was announced at the COP 21 summit.

The country plans to team up with African states to start a partnership that would see knowledge about bamboo growth and products, such as bamboo-based biofuels and charcoal briquettes, transferred to other bamboo-growing nations.

The partnership, which was launched at an event on 9 December in Paris, France, will be overseen by INBAR, a China-based intergovernmental organisation that seeks to use bamboo and rattan to reduce poverty and environmental damage.
Part of a 20 billion renminbi (US$3.1 billion) fund that China launched in September to increase South-South cooperation on climate change will be spent on the initiative.

Bamboo’s quick growth and easy care make it ideal for removing carbon from the atmosphere, and being a raw material for biofuel and consumer products, the initiative’s supporters said.

“Bamboo should now become a South-South-North dynamic forclimate change initiatives using China’s expertise in managing this sector,” said Hans Friederich, INBAR’s director-general.

The partnership also plans to include bamboo-growing countries from Asia and Latin America at a later stage, the event heard.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Smallholder farmers in Africa and climate change

 

 

Innovative climate change partnerships bring hope for smallholder farmers in Africa

Vivian Atakos, Vanessa Meadu and Catherine Mungai (CCAFS East Africa)

Report back from Farmers Day at the UN Climate Change Conference.

If the music changes, you must change the dance steps. So goes a popular proverb from West Africa. This has been the realization of Kisilu Musya, a small scale farmer from the Eastern part of Kenya, a semi-arid region experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change.

Kisilu remembers well his farming system 15 years ago.“The rains were plenty. I grew local maize varieties every season and received a bumper harvest each time,” he told the audience at a side event organized by the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance on 2 December in Paris. However, with a changing climate, he noted that over a period of time local maize varieties no longer gave good yields. He was struggling to feed his family of nine children and wife Christina. Subsequently, he joined a farmer field school operating in his village where he amassed knowledge on new farming methods and accessed drought-tolerant seed varieties. Now a research farmer, Kisilu tries out new crop varieties, determining which ones yield best before sharing lessons with his community. His main concern, however, is the need for long term solutions: where crops, trees and cattle work together to form a sustainable and long term circle of produce.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Land degradation and land management

 

To fight desertification, let’s manage our land better

SUBMITTED BY ADEMOLA BRAIMOH

In the future, desertification could displace up to 135 million people by 2045.

Land degradation could also reduce global food production by up to 12% and push world food prices up by 30%. In Egypt, Ghana, Central African Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Paraguay, land degradation could cause an annual GDP loss of up to 7%.

Pressure on land resources is expected to increase as populations grow, socio-economic development happens and the climate changes. A growing population will demand more food, which means that unsuitable or especially biodiverse land will be claimed for farming and be more vulnerable to degradation. Increased fertilizer and pesticide use related to agriculture will increase nutrient loading in soils, causing eutrophication and declines in fertility over time. Climate change will also aggravate land degradation—especially in drylands, which occupy 40% of global land area, and are inhabited by some 2 billion people. Urban areas, which are located in the world’s highly fertile areas, could grow to account for more than 5% of global land by mid-century.

Unless we manage our land better, every person will rely on just .11 hectares of land for their food; down from .45 hectares in 1960.

So how do we manage land better?

It will all come down to what we do with our soil, which is the most significant natural capital for ensuring food, water, and energy security while adapting and building resilience to climate change and shocks. The soil’s nutrient cycling provides the largest contribution (51%) of the total value (USD33 trillion) of all ‘ecosystem services’ provided each year. But soil’s important function is often forgotten as the missing link in our pursuit of sustainable development.

Read the full article: The World Bank – Voices

Take a more integrated and balanced view of forests around the world

Photo credit: Nature World News

Boreal forests are experiencing a rapid increase in climate, which threatens their productivity. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Climate Change Shifts Boreal Forest Northward

By Samantha Mathewson

Boreal forests take a hit as climate change warms them at rates as high as 0.5°C per decade, with the potential of increasing to 6 or 11°C by the year 2100.

That is, “Boreal forests have the potential to hit a tipping point this century,” International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIAS) researcher Anatoly Shvidenko said in a statement. “It is urgent that we place more focus on climate mitigation and adaptation with respect to these forests, and also take a more integrated and balanced view of forests around the world.”

Boreal forests make up 30% of the planet’s total forested area, spanning northernmost regions of Canada, Russia, Alaska, and Scandinavia. Home to many plants and animals, these forests also play a vital role in supplying large quantities of wood for lumber and biofuel production and in managing Earth’s climate system by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the release noted.

Researchers including Shvidenko at IIAS and others at Natural Resources Canada and the University of Helsinki recently published their findings in the journal Science. Their research indicates that boreal forest climate zones are moving northward at a rate ten times faster than the trees are able to migrate. This, paired with climate change instituting warmer and drier conditions and spreading outbreaks of invasive species; causes these forests to be altered.

Read the full article: Nature World News

Massive “greening” of the Arctic

Photo credit: Science Heathen

Massive Arctic Greening Within Only A Few Decades? Transformation Could Make The Arctic The Center Of Human Activity

The Arctic will experience a massive “greening” in the coming decades as a result of rising temperatures and climate change, new research from the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation has found. The research shows that rising temperatures will cause total plant cover area in the Arctic to increase significantly, with wooded areas increasing in size by as much as 50% in only a few decades. This rapid increase in vegetation will result in accelerated warming within the region and also globally.

Read the full article: Science Heathen