The global dialogue surrounding the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) has focused on two strategies for addressing current challenges: mitigation (reducing the accumulation of greenhouse gases, or GHG, in the atmosphere) and adaptation (reducing the vulnerability of societies and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change). Forests feature in both of these strategies. The role of forests as stores of carbon, and therefore in reducing GHG emissions, has been captured in the efforts associated with reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation and enhancing carbon stocks (REDD+). In the area of adaptation, forests have featured less prominently. Only a few National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) mention the need to adapt forest systems to changing climates. The low profile of forests in the adaptation discussion is surprising, given that the role of forests in generating services is widely accepted.
This working paper presents a review of relevant work on forests and the services they provide and of the use of forests and trees in adaptation. It also provides a conceptualization of how to link forest services with their use for adaptation (ecosystem-based adaptation).