Forests act as buffers

A close-up of a fern in a forest in Central Kalimantan.

Forests counter the effects of climate change ̶ one of the greatest environmental challenges our society is set to face this century. They can absorb about one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them – in principle in perpetuity.

A lot of people may know that forests make us more resilient to the effects of climate change but perhaps lesser known is the fact that they increase our resilience to other things, too. Economic shocks, natural disasters, food scarcity, energy shortages, to name a few.

Let’s take a step back and look at what resilience means. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, it is “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape” or “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. These two concepts are inter-related when looking at forests and people. The more resilient forests are, the more we are, too. The greater their elasticity, the tougher we are.

In looking at how forests can make lives and livelihoods more resilient, we must first consider sustainable forest management, which maintains all forest values. Sustainable forest management diversifies options – for the forest ecosystems themselves and for the livelihoods depending on them, and thus creates resilience.

The ways forests contribute to building resilient communities as well as how communities contribute to building resilient forests will be discussed at the World Forestry Congress (7-11 September 2015 in Durban, South Africa). How do forests help protect your area or town? How does your community or town promote sustainable forest management?

Read more about the sub-theme “Building resilience with forests”.

Picture: A close-up of a fern in a forest in Central Kalimantan. Courtesy Nanang Sujana (Center for International Forestry Research – CIFOR)

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