Combating Climate Change

climate change and forestry

Climate change is any long-term significant change in the “average weather” that a given region experiences. Average weather may include average temperature, precipitation and wind patterns. It involves changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over durations ranging from decades to millions of years.

These changes can be caused by dynamic process on the Earth, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity, and more recently by human activities.

Climate change is more commonly linked to the greenhouse effect, a natural process whereby gases present in the atmosphere, such as water vapour, CO2 and methane, keep the earth warmer than it would otherwise be. Without these gases, the Earth would not be warm enough to sustain the abundance of life around us.

Over the last century the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has risen, driven in large part by our usage of fossil fuels, but also by other factors that are related to rising population and increasing consumption, such as deforestation.

Around the world, climate change is projected to:

  • Threaten the world’s forests with an increased fire risk because of the drying climate
  • Cause water needs to outstrip supply
  • Cause severe water loss due to changes in evaporation and precipitation patterns
  • Cause flood damage to low-lying countries and island states, including loss of coastal land to rising sea levels
  • Encourage the movement of tropical diseases such as malaria northward, where populations have little or no immunity
  • Cause food shortages due to the effect on harvests and sensitive crops

Sustainable forestry has a direct contribution to preventing negative climate change. As trees undergo their natural process of photosynthesis, they use CO2 found naturally in the atmosphere, hence reducing the amount in the ozone that prevents heat from escaping.

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