Why forests

Climate Adaptation

Photo credit: Ecotierra

Our climate is already changing. We see it in the melting Arctic icecaps, the slowly rising sea levels, an increase in bush fires and the changing migratory patterns of birds and marine life.

The effects of climate change are already with us and are causing increasing damage. Extreme weather events, from hurricanes to droughts, are occurring more frequently to the point of becoming commonplace.

Prediction is the best form of defense

The world’s climate scientists have become more advanced at modelling and anticipating the long-term impact of climate change on populations (such as crop failures, coastal flooding or drought). You can learn more about how rising global temperatures are already changing our world here.

By predicting what may happen next, climate scientists are also able to help us design smarter solutions so we can adapt to change. Climate-smart agriculture is one great example of this, where science is helping us to develop new strains of specialized crops, improve irrigation, rethink how we look after harvested crops and integrate storm protection into how farmers work.

The forests are fighting back

Forests are powerful natural, living, breathing ecosystems that can minimize the impact of climate change and help nature adjust to it. And they do this by creating more resilient landscapes.

Here are just a few ways that forests help our planet fight back:

  • They make excellent natural flood barriers, creating a physical buffer that protects communities against rising water and landslides
  • They can regulate water flow in times of drought or flooding; their leaves attract and create moisture, encouraging or even creating rainfall and their roots anchor water in the soil, reducing the risk of desertification
  • They lower local surface temperatures, absorbing heat and evaporating water which, in turn, cools the air
  • They provide a safety net for local people by providing fuel, food and medicine, which is invaluable if their crops fail
  • They improve air quality; vital in our increasingly polluted world
  • They keep soil nourished and healthy

Fast payback

Vietnam recently invested $1.1 million in protecting their mangrove forests. This comparatively small investment now saves the country $7.3 million every year in more expensive flood control measures1. Learn more about the economic benefits of forests here.


Chain reaction

Of course, forests are interconnected communities. A chain reaction of damage, disease, and decay can all too easily occur, leading to the complete loss of a forest, the ecosystem services they provide and the carbon they store. You can find out more about this here.

More often than not, humans are responsible for the catastrophic degradation of forests, but it can happen naturally too. Climate change unfortunately increases the risk of forests degrading. For example, pests that kill trees tend to breed more easily through warm winters and wet summers. Fires increase in intensity and frequency too.

But in a stronger and more intact forest, the healthy members of the community can support the weakened ones, and the entire ecosystem can adjust to the effects of climate change.

Make change happen

We know that forests have an extraordinary potential to minimize the impact and extent of climate change. We also know that we can’t avoid it entirely, so we need a clear strategy for adaptation.

Making sure that forests stay healthy and that other natural landscapes are protected lies at the heart of that strategy, but we need your support.

Find out more about the great projects you can help us to fund here. We invite you to join us.

Helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land

[1] World Bank (2016) Forests create jobs and wealth