Motive Project

Article alert: Adapting forestry and forests to climate change: A challenge to change the paradigm.


Schoene, D.H.F., Bernier, P.Y. , 2011. Adapting forestry and forests to climate change: A challenge to change the paradigm. Forest Policy and Economics, Article in Press.

Carbon in forest biomass has historically been the fulcrum for major changes in forestry and forests. Following T.S. Kuhn, these breaks with the past are seen as paradigm changes. We perceive planned adaptation of forestry and forests under climate change as a new paradigm change, precipitated once more by forest carbon. To be sustainable, forest management and conservation must embrace planned adaptation to and mitigation of mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
The current initiative of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) represents, beyond its original mitigation goal, a major facet of planned adaptation of forests and adjoining sectors in developing countries. The initiative is gaining a powerful momentum for enhancing sustainable forest management in developing countries. REDD may also adapt relations between developing and developed countries in another paradigm change. Worldwide observations of climate change impacts on forests and IPCC forecasts project an image of forests and forestry entering a new era. Dealing with this future by relying on autonomous adaptation is unlikely to suffice. Climate change will alter site and ecological conditions, increase risk in many forests, create new gaps in knowledge, increase the value of forest carbon and wood energy, and expand the international and human dimensions of forestry. Ending the proverbial seed dormancy of new developments in forestry, change is underway and appears expedient. We conclude that anticipatory planned adaptation of all facets of forestry to climate change imposes mitigation and adaptation as new boundary conditions for sustainable forest management and conservation, and amounts to a paradigm change.

Research Highlights
► Forests around the world exhibit impacts, consistent with expectations under progressing climate change.
► Forestry can no longer hope to adapt autonomously, relying on traditional science, experiences, techniques and reasoning.
► Planned adaptation exceeds adjusting the blueprint of conventional forestry; virtually nothing can remain exactly as it was.
► Planned adaptation entails awareness of and truly innovative responses to new boundary conditions for forestry.
► The definition of sustainable forest management must encompass planned adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.

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