Forest and Climate Change Adaptation

We may be able to slow down climate change – but we cannot stop it.

Already, the weather is behaving differently. In the future, the effects of climate change will become stronger. So now is the time to get ready for climate change, by making a strategy to deal with the effects.
Making strategies to deal with climate change is known as “climate change adaptation”.

How do we make a strategy for climate change adaptation?

The effects of climate change will be different in each area. People in each area have to look at their land and lives, and think about the following questions:

  • How will climate change affect my area?
  • How serious will this effect be?
  • How can we prepare, so that we are  ready to deal with this effect?
  • What assets do we have that can  help us? What extra assets will we need?

Likely effects of climate change in Indonesia:

  • Damage to crops and land
  • Not enough forest products
  • Saltwater on the land
  • Water shortages
  • Not enough fish
  • Disease

How can forests help us adapt to climate change?

Indonesia has a lot of forest – and forest is a very useful asset when dealing with climate change.

  • Food from the forest can save families if their crops fail. It can also be used to feed animals.
  • Forests help keep water clean.
  • Forests soak up rainfall during the wet season and release it during the dry season, so they help keep more water in the ground in the area.
  • Farms that have trees nearby are healthier.
  • Crops grown among trees are better at surviving when there are droughts, changes in temperature or heavy rainfall.
  • Forests hold the soil in place and stop it from being washed away.
  • Forest products, such as rattan or coconuts, may offer an opportunity to start a new business
  • Forests help keep the temperature down during heat waves.
  • Mangrove forests protect coastal areas against storms and waves and they absorb extra water if the sea levels rise.
  • Activities that conserve the forest will therefore be an important part of an adaptation strategy

Examples of adaptation strategies

One of the first steps in developing an adaptation strategy is to ask about vulnerability. Vulnerability is about how likely someone is to suffer from the effects of climate change. For example, a village that is right beside a river is very vulnerable to flooding; their adaptation strategy might include moving the village buildings to higher land. If an area already often has fires, then people are highly vulnerable to more fires; their adaptation strategy might include fire control systems.

Many people are vulnerable to climate change because they have only one source of food or income. This means that if they lose that one source, they will have nothing. These people might adapt by finding more and different sources of income. For example, a farmer might start growing some timber trees among his rubber or cacao trees. Villagers might start growing fruit trees. These activities also support biodiversity, which strengthens the whole ecosystem and makes it more resilient to changes in the climate.