Forestry and Resilience to Climate Change: A Synthesis on Application of Forest-Based Adaptation Strategies to Reduce Vulnerability Among Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Forests and trees outside forests play an important role on mitigation of climate change through sequestering of carbon from the atmosphere. However, little has been documented on the role of forestry in adaptation to climate change. The objective of this paper was therefore to identify and analyse forest-based adaptation strategies employed in sub-Saharan Africa that have the potential of enhancing resilience of vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change, with a view of recommending them for up-scale and adoption. The study employed both desk review approach and primary data collection through focused group discussion from 12 African countries. A review of selected studies commissioned by African forest Forum in sub-Saharan Africa was undertaken and synthesis carried out to delineate role of forestry in improving resilience to climate change to various forest ecosystems and people. It also builds from review of related reports and other publications on forestry as relates to climate change. The study revealed forest and tree-based systems in the context of sustainable forest management plays a significant role on disaster risk reduction and abatement to impacts of climate change. Specifically, tree planting and forest conservation aid protection of soil and land against detrimental impacts of flooding. Rehabilitation of degraded lands and forests through tree planting and good forest management practices enhances water quality and other vital environmental services. Such benefits associated with forests and tree-based systems improve capacity of communities in upstream and downstream to ameliorate impacts of climate change. Overall, the adaptation strategies such as: sustainable forest management (SFM); agroforestry systems; forestry and food production; commercial forestry; and other ecosystem based interventions enhance resilience among the vulnerable communities in the sub-Saharan Africa. The development of appropriate institutions, policy and legal frameworks that support national initiatives such as National Adaptation Programmes of Actions (NAPAs), forest based Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) as well as NDCs and other coping mechanisms that integrate both adaptation and mitigation remains vital in strengthening resilience of vulnerable social groups and biophysical systems to the impacts of climate change.

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