Essi Ulander, UNDP in Armenia
For those of you interested in climate change adaptation, our forest adaptation project in Armenia decided to join the blogosphere to share information and knowledge. For our first blog, we wanted to present our project – and in as few points as possible.
- Our project promotes adaptation to the impacts of climate change on mountain forest ecosystems in Armenia. The project is about three quarters down the line and will be wrapped in 2013. Although the project has stayed well on schedule and several project successes have already been posted on our web site, now is the time to get the last, and maybe the biggest, things done.
- The issue: The impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems. Forests tend to be at the centre of many climate change mitigation projects, but our project concentrates on enhancing forest adaptation to climate change. This approach is relatively new and the project is testing some theoretical assumptions on the ground. Adaptation measures are important for the protection of scarce forest resources in Armenia, but should likewise be at the heart of forest mitigation projects, like REDD+, to improve their sustainability.
- The solution: adaptive forest management. Traditionally forest management is based on expectedly unchanging conditions, an assumption that will not hold under climate change – especially when we look at the rotation lengths of several decades up to a century of forests. Adaptive forest management is not about reinventing the wheel though; it is about fine-tuning the timing and practices of current forest management, rethinking the type and mixture of seedlings, learning as we go and, most importantly, identifying the local impacts of climate change on forests.
- Climate change in the forests of Armenia is a burning issue. Literally, as wildfires are one of the main threats posed by the drying and warming climate of the region. It is also a gnawing problem as leaf-eating forest pests are greatly benefitting from the new conditions. Forests in Armenia are fragmented and degraded due to several human factors, which is leading to reduced forest resilience under climate change.
- The forest adaptation project includes work on strengthening capacities to manage wildfires and demonstrate environmentally-friendly pest control. Partners range from forest enterprises of “Hayantar” (the state forest authority) and protected area managers to the fire brigades of Armenian Rescue Service and students in local communities. The project also has four reforestation sites in the Syunik region of Armenia.
- The big task remaining on the project’s to-do-list is including climate change risks in the 10-year forest management plans.
- The project is one of the only 26 projects to receive funding from the Global Environment Facility for adaptation initiatives – making the project a global pilot. Examples of similar projects are not widespread.
I’m one of the three volunteers that will send blog posts from UNDP in Armenia and represent the Climate Change Programme Unit working in cooperation with the Ministry of Nature Protection in Armenia. So stay tuned for future posts on forest adaptation.
If you are interested in any particular aspect of the project, just let us know and we would be happy to blog about it!