Jakarta Post: Climate Change and Forest-Dwelling People

Many voices are saying that the traditional subsistence economy of
the world’s forest-dwelling people is endangered by the new climate,
that forest villagers need for help in adaption to now-unavoidable
change, and that this need is largely ignored as rich nation’s try to
meet their own interests.

The news story below is focused on this issue’s place in the
international climate conference now underway in Poznan, Poland.

Jakarta Post (Jakarta, Indonesia)
December 06, 2008

Engage forest groups, conference told
Stevie Emilia, The Jakarta Post, Poznan

For forest communities, adapting to climate change is a matter of
life or death, but this aspect of the global issue tends to be
neglected, experts say.

“For many forest communities, adapting to climate change is already a
matter of survival. We need to act now to ensure a better future,”
said Frances Seymour, the director of the Bogor-based Center for
International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a leading group of forest

“The adaptation challenge is being treated as secondary to
mitigation, and yet the two are inextricably linked.”

CIFOR presented a report at the UN climate talks being held until
Dec. 12 in Poznan, Poland, where representatives from 190 countries
are meeting to work toward an ambitious new global treaty on reducing
harmful emissions, targeted for adoption in Denmark in December 2009.

The treaty, which follows up on recommendations made at an earlier
world meeting in Bali, will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires
in 2012.

Forests are often discussed in terms of carbon emissions, CIFOR said,
but both national policies and international negotiations tended to
overlook the need for measures to enable forests and the people who
live in them to adapt to climate change.

“The people living in forests are highly dependent on forest goods
and services and are often very vulnerable socioeconomically,” said
the report’s lead author, Bruno Locatelli.

“They usually have a much more intimate understanding of their
forests than anyone else, but the unprecedented rates of climate
change will almost certainly jeopardize their ability to adapt to new
conditions. They will need help.”

Forests provide millions of people with income, food, medicines and
building materials.

Seymour said adaptation strategies should build on local knowledge
about forest management in the face of climatic variability. The
strategies should also help locals to take action appropriate to
their own local circumstances, she said.

According to UN data, 7.3 million hectares of forest worldwide was
lost every year between 2000 and 2005, an area the size of Sierra
Leone or Panama.

Meanwhile, a U.S. representative was quoted by the Associated Press
as saying that governments are looking to its new leadership in
reaching a global climate treaty.

Robert Orr, assistant secretary-general for policy coordination and
strategic planning, said president-elect Barack Obama’s comments on
the need to address climate change have raised “a lot of hope”–
particularly when some governments, nervous about the economic
crisis, are talking about delaying their efforts to curb emissions,
AP reported.

The Kyoto Protocol requires signatories to cut emissions by an
average 5 percent from 1990 levels.

The United States has continued to refuse to ratify the Kyoto
Protocol on the grounds it would damage U.S. businesses and did not
make the same requirements of emerging economies, especially major
emitters such as India and China.

Obama, however, has promised to establish annual targets to reduce
U.S. emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them by
another 80 percent by 2050, AP said.


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