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The adaptation-mitigation cocktail, or why policy-makers have hangovers

In a thoughtful article for FORESTS blog, Emilia Pramova examines the hangover-inducing negotiation between mitigation and adaptation when devising strategies for long-term management of forests.

In reference to international climate change meetings, she writes, “Adaptation had long been the neglected child at the climate negotiations dinner table. Discussions had primarily focused on mitigation, in part because of a taboo on adaptation: the need for adaptation was being perceived as a failure of mitigation, or a way to weaken mitigation efforts.

While this is changing now with growing scientific evidence about the inevitability of specific impacts, the optimal mix debate might stall critical adaptation decisions and funding. This can have serious consequences as delays might increase vulnerability and costs in the future for both societies and forests.”

The article goes on to say, “Even under the most stringent mitigation scenario, some climate change impacts will inevitably hit forests and people. Certain impacts are already occurring, are jeopardizing the permanence of carbon storage in forest ecosystems and are also rendering forest-dependent people more vulnerable.

Adaptation strategies aiming at buffering forest ecosystems from climate change impacts such as fire should become an essential component of forest management. Furthermore, a REDD+ project is more likely to be sustainable if it integrates adaptation measures for communities and ecosystems, taking into account local needs and thus increasing its local legitimacy.”

ACT’s 2008 Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity report lays out key aspects of the mitigation/adaptation challenge to BC’s forests, and recommends ways to adapt by making the transition to an ecosystem-based economy that acknowledges the full value of the province’s ecosystems in resource decision-making.

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