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4 Future Socio-Economic Impacts and
Coordinating lead authors: Balgis Osman-Elasha and John Parrotta
Lead authors: Neil Adger, Maria Brockhaus, Carol J. Pierce Colfer and Brent Sohngen
Contributing authors: Talaat Dafalla, Linda A. Joyce,
Johnson Nkem and Carmenza Robledo
Abstract: The projected impacts of climate change are significant, and despite the
uncertainties associated with current climate and ecosystem model projections, the
associated changes in the provision of forest ecosystem services are expected to be
substantial in many parts of the world. These impacts will present significant social
and economic challenges for affected communities and society as a whole, particularly
among the forest-dependent poor, who are already highly vulnerable in many countries
throughout the world. This chapter discusses how the likely effects of climate-induced
changes on the provision of forest ecosystem services may affect the economic and
social well-being of society, including forest-dependent people, with specific reference
to the production of wood and non-wood products, hydrological regulation and water
quality, human health and well-being, spiritual and cultural values, recreation and ecotour-
ism. The role of governance is discussed as a key factor that will profoundly influence
social and economic impacts and vulnerabilities, and the adaptive capacity of societies
to deal with the effects of expected climate change-induced shifts in the quantity and
quality of forest ecosystem services.
Keywords: climate change, socio-economic impacts and vulnerabilities, non-wood for-
est products, social resilience, forest-dependent, cultural services, traditional coping
strategies, adaptive capacity and governance
4.1 Introduction
he expected impacts of climate change on forests
and woodlands and their capacity to provide vital
ecosystem services, as discussed in previous chapters
of this report, will have far-reaching consequences
for the well-being of people in affected areas. Model-
ling and analysis to date, as described in this chapter,
has provided numerous insights for policy makers.
As with any scientific endeavour, though, evaluations
of the future socio-economic impacts and vulner-
abilities of climate change are fraught with diffi-
culties and uncertainties. As is widely recognized
throughout the socio-economic literature, future
projections of economic conditions are inherently
uncertain. These uncertainties are compounded by
the links economists make with the climate and eco-
logical models that contain their own uncertainties,
particularly when addressing impacts at subregional
and local levels. These difficulties are compounded
not only by the complexity of forest ecosystems and
their responses to climate change, but also by the in-
direct nature of the links between provision of forest
ecosystem services and human well-being.
Current projections of climate and ecological
models indicate that forest productivity will increase
over time in some regions (IPCC 2007, Fischlin et
al. 2007), presenting new opportunities for forest in-
dustry and forest-dependent communities to capture
economic benefits associated with these changes. In
many other regions these same projections suggest
significant declines in the capacity of forest ecosys-
tems to provide production, provisioning, regulating
and cultural services upon which a significant pro-
portion of the world’s population depends for their
Of particular concern are the potential impacts on
forest-dependent communities in tropical and sub-
tropical domains who are already suffering from the
effects of ongoing deforestation and forest degrada-
tion. Projected increases in the frequency and sever-
ity of droughts, oods, other extreme weather events,
forest disturbances such as forest res and outbreaks
of forest pests and diseases, and associated changes
in forest structure and composition will further re-
duce the capacity of forests and woodlands to pro-
vide timber, fuelwood and essential non-wood forest
products, suffi cient clean water for consumptive use,
and other services required to meet basic nutritional,
health and cultural needs of forest-dependent people.
In such regions, existing socio-economic vulner-
abilities of these communities may be expected to
worsen. As has been witnessed in the past, the in-
ability of people to meet their basic requirements
for food, clean water and other necessities which
forest ecosystem services often provide can lead to
deepening poverty, deteriorating public health, social
con ict (as people seek to migrate to more hospitable
areas, or already overcrowded urban centres) and
other detrimental human impacts.
In this chapter, we consider how climate-induced
changes on the provision of forest ecosystem services
will impact the economic and social well-being of
forest-dependent people. We consider these socio-
economic impacts and vulnerabilities with refer-
ence to provisioning services (including production
of wood and non-wood products, in sub-chapter
4.2); regulating services (hydrological regulation
and water quality, human health and well-being, in
sub-chapter 4.3); and cultural services (spiritual and
cultural values, recreation and ecotourism, in sub-
chapter 4.4). Supporting services are addressed in
chapter 3. The role of governance is discussed in this
chapter as a key factor that will profoundly infl uence
social and economic impacts and vulnerabilities, and
affect, positively or negatively, the adaptive capac-
ity of societies to deal with the effects of expected
shifts in the quantity and quality of forest ecosystem
services as infl uenced by climate change.
Within social science research, many methods
have been used to assess potential impacts of cli-
mate change in social systems. These methods either
implicitly or explicitly account for adaptation.
For a description of these methods see Box 4.1.
4.2 Provisioning Services
4.2.1 Wood and Wood Products
Models and Methods to Assess Impacts of Climate
Change on Wood Product Markets
Any assessment of climate-change impacts in
wood-product markets requires inputs from other
disciplines. For timber-market impacts, these inputs
include scenarios of future climate change from gen-
eral circulation models, and scenarios of ecologi-
cal impacts from ecological models (e.g. dynamic
global vegetation models, or DGVMs), as discussed
in chapter 3. The results from ecological models pro-
vide an indication about the implications of climate
Scenario of future climate
forcing (e.g. SRES
Climate scenarios from
General Circulation
Ecological scenarios from
DGVMs or other
ecological models
Translation of ecological
results into growth and
disturbance effects
Economic impacts
(prices, timber production,
welfare effects)
impacts and
interactions have
not been fully
addressed to
Scenario of future
economic and
population growth
Figure 4.1 Stylized view of methods for assessing economic impacts of climate
Climate change is only one factor that will af-
fect forests and people dependent on forest goods
and services in the future. Population and income
growth, expansion or reduction of crop and pas-
tureland, pest infestations, forest fires and industrial
pollution (e.g. nitrogen deposition or acid rain) are
other factors that will affect the structure and func-
tion of forests in the coming century. To assess
the impact of climate change on forest goods and
services, the methods used must disentangle the
effects of climate change from these many other
important influences. Further, as noted by Rosen-
zweig et al. (2008), humans will adapt, and it is
difficult to separate adaptation from the impacts.
Within social science research, many methods have
been used to assess potential impacts of climate
change in social systems. These methods either
implicitly or explicitly account for adaptation.
First, researchers may use evidence from adap-
tation of human systems to other types of impacts,
or to historic climate change, to make inferences
about how climate change may affect these same,
or other, human systems (see e.g. ‘vulnerability
assessment’ proposed by Turner et al. 2003). With
such analysis, researchers assess how other observ-
able factors (such as population change, agricultural
expansion, disturbances, etc.), influence forests and
the flows of goods and services provided by forests.
This information is then used to make inferences
about how climate change may affect these same
flows of goods and services provided by forests,
and the individuals or groups of individuals who
use them. Analysis like this can help researchers
better understand the resilience of families, groups
of people, political systems or other entities to the
small- or large-scale disruptions possible with cli-
mate change. In regions where climate change is
already occurring and having impacts, such as in
high altitudes and high latitudes, researchers are
already using these methods (e.g. Young and Lip-
ton 2006, Ford et al. 2008).
Second, researchers may employ empirical, or
statistical, data that compares responses of eco-
nomic or social systems across climate variables
(see e.g. Mendelsohn et al. 1994, Schlenker et al.
2006, Deschenes and Greenstone 2007). To make
such analysis valid, one must have a large number
of observations over a fairly wide spatial scale.
Researchers may also supplement this cross-sec-
tional data with data from different time periods to
strengthen the results. If a large number of stud-
ies are available assessing impacts on a particular
resource (e.g. forests, crops, land use), one may
also conduct meta-analysis. Meta-analysis involves
combining the results of many different studies,
perhaps from different regions, to assess whether
the results can be generalized.
Third, researchers can conduct survey or ex-
perimental research designed to elicit hypothetical
individual (or community) responses to climate-
change stimuli (see e.g. Layton and Brown 2003).
Studies conducted with survey methods or with
experimental techniques can isolate responses to
climate-change stimuli from other types of stimuli.
However, it is important to recognize that in the
absence of actual observed climate change, this
data will be hypothetical.
Fourth, researchers can construct models to
assess impacts on specific variables. Researchers
often rely on models sufficiently empirical or sta-
tistical data is not available. Much of the research
on the impacts of climate change on timber-market
outputs has been conducted with modelling studies
(see e.g. Joyce et al. 1995, Sohngen and Mendel-
sohn 1998, Sohngen et al. 2001, and Perez-Garcia
et al. 2002). The models simulate market activity
‘without’ and ‘with’ climate-change stimuli. The
two cases are compared to determine impacts on
economic outcomes (e.g. prices, outputs). Because
other factors in the model are constant in the ‘with’
and ‘without’ cases (population, income, etc.),
modelling exercises isolate the impacts of climate
change relative to other influences.
Box 4.1 Assessing Potential Climate Change Impacts in Social Science
change on different ecosystem types, but these results
must often be translated into data that can be used
in economic models.
A stylized view of the steps typically taken to
conduct an economic assessment of climate-change
impacts is shown in Figure 4.1. Most assessments
to date have assumed a linear path of models, that
is, from climate scenario to ecological scenario to
economic model. Some links between vegetation
models and General Circulation Models have been
established, but important feedbacks between man-
agement, ecological impacts and market interactions
have not been fully addressed to date. This point
is important to recognize because most ecological
models assume that there is little, or no, interaction
between humans and ecosystems. In reality though,
many of the world’s ecosystems are affected by
human management, and most forests utilized for
timber production are in fact managed. Ecological
models that do not account for land management by
humans likely overestimate the impacts of climate
change on ecosystems because they do not capture
human responses either directly to climate change
phenomena, or to secondary market adjustments
caused by climate change (Sohngen et al. 1998).
Quite a lot of other factors, besides climate change,
also will affect forests and forest management in the
future (e.g. Table 4.1). Economic models of course
could be used to study the effects other exogenous
impacts have on timber markets, but would constitute
a different study than one on climate-change impacts.
All the economic models make assumptions about
how the other factors described in Table 4.1 affect
markets when they analyse climate-change impacts.
Analysts typically hold their assumptions about these
other factors constant between the baseline scenario
and their climate-change scenario. Some studies do
conduct sensitivity analysis to consider the impli-
cations of changes in one or another of the ‘other’
Ecological Impacts Captured By Economic
As discussed in Chapter 3 of this report, climate
change could have many influences on forest struc-
ture and function, including changes in productiv-
ity, changes in disturbance, and the movement of
species and ecosystem types across the landscape.
Economists account for these effects by using results
from the ecological studies to perturb their underly-
ing inventory models. Within the economic literature,
three ecological impacts have been studied to date:
yield effects, disturbance regimes and movement of
species and ecosystem types.
Yield Effects: The inventory models used by econ-
omists typically contain yield functions, which
provide information on the quantity of biomass
per hectare at different age-class intervals. These
models do not incorporate the influence of cli-
mate on the yield projections. Ecological mod-
els typically provide information on changes in
productivity of different ecosystem types and in
some cases age classes, under different transient
climate scenarios, and these changes can be used
to perturb the annual growth of forests within the
inventory models (Joyce 2007).
One important uncertainty in modelling growth
effects in forestry is the influence of increasing at-
mospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO
Most ecological models used by economists to
date have incorporated this influence on plant
growth. A recent study by Haynes et al. (2007)
illustrates the importance of (CO
) effects. Their
study shows that under climate change and el-
evated CO
, softwood and hardwood inventories
expand steadily (relative to the base run of no
climate change or elevated CO
influence), while
under climate change only, some forest types in-
crease in timber growth, while growth in other
forest types declines. This area of research on
effects on plants is a rapidly changing area of
science, and economic model development can lag
behind the current understanding of the science.
Disturbance Regimes: Changes in disturbance re-
gimes such as changes in forest fire outbreaks,
severe storm and wind damage, disease outbreaks,
or insect infestations that lead to large areas of
dead, dying and decaying trees – can have more
immediate effects on markets than changes in for-
est yields. If forest dieback and disturbance occurs
in managed forest zones, losses of existing stocks
of trees could have immediate impacts in markets.
The full range of economic impacts will depend
on how extensive the damage to trees is and how
much salvage can be conducted.
Table 4.1 Other factors, besides climate change, that would affect the demand or supply
of wood.
Factor Demand side effects Supply side effects
Energy demand Affect demand for wood as an input Affect supply of land
into energy production for forests
Agricultural markets Affect competition for land and
affect supply of forestland
Governance Affect income and population growth Affect land tenure
and thus demand
Economic growth Affect demand for wood Affect demand for land in other uses,
such as environmental protection
Exchange rates Alter the quantity demanded Alter production costs across countries
Movement of Species and Ecosystem Types:
Ecological models indicate that ecosystem types
will shift pole-ward and up-slope. Accounting for
movement of species is the most difficult aspect
of economic modelling due to the long time lags
between regeneration and harvest of trees. The
movement of tree species by humans is inherently
a trial and error process. Natural migration rates
within ecological models account for the natural
trial and error process. Through active manage-
ment, humans can speed this up, although invest-
ments will depend on prices. Humans may also
make errors that will slow migration. There are
many genetic studies showing the adaptability
of commodity species across large geographical
areas, but there is currently little research on the
adaptability of non-commodity forest tree spe-
Economic Estimates of Impacts in Timber Markets
There is a long history of modelling timber mar-
kets, both within countries and internationally. These
models have been developed to assess the relation-
ship between changing demand for wood products
and the supply of timber. One example is the TAMM
model (Adams and Haynes 1980), which was used
widely throughout the 1980s and 1990s for timber
supply analysis in the United States. More recently
in the USA, the FASOM model (Adams et al. 1996)
has been developed and employed for forest policy
analysis in the USA. Whereas TAMM and FASOM
models only consider the United States, The Center
for International Trade in Forest Products Global
Trade Model (CGTM; described in Kallio et al.
1987) and the Timber Supply Model (Sedjo and Lyon
1990) account for global demand and supply condi-
tions. EFISCEN is a forest-sector projection model
similar to TAMM and CGTM which has been applied
widely to the European forest sector (Nabuurs et al.
2001). In the past 10–15 years, all of these models
have been applied to assess climate change.
The recent IPCC report indicates that by the end
of this century global warming could cause large-
scale changes in the structure and function of ecosys-
tems globally (Fischlin et al. 2007). While the most
dramatic changes appear to occur later in the century,
significant adjustments in forest stocks could occur
within the next 20–50 years (Fischlin et al. 2007).
Taking the ecological results into account, economic
studies have thus far concluded that the global supply
of timber is not likely to be adversely affected by
climate change, and in fact could be increased (East-
erling et al. 2007). The results in this chapter support
this general conclusion from the IPCC, but the results
here recognize as well that there are potentially large
regional and local effects from climate change that
will have important implications for citizens living
and working within those affected forested areas.
Given the results in Easterling et al. (2007) and
other economic assessments of climate change,
consumers worldwide are expected to benefit from
climate change due to expanding global timber sup-
ply and falling prices. Producers and landowners,
on the other hand, could gain or lose welfare during
climate change depending on relative productivity
versus price effects. The results in this sub-chapter
focus on impacts of climate change on output and
timber producers.
Global Results
As a result of projected increases in the productiv-
ity of forested ecosystems due to climate change,
a number of studies have projected that climate
change will increase the long-run supply of timber
globally (Perez-Garcia et al. 1997, Sohngen et al.
2001, Perez-Garcia et al. 2002, Lee and Lyon 2004).
With the exception of Perez-Garcia et al. (2002), the
other studies utilized earlier, static General Circula-
tion Models. As a consequence, those authors had to
make assumptions about the timing of the effects of
climate change, assuming that the effects occurred
linearly over a 50–100 year period.
Authors of existing studies also have focused on
different types of ecological effects in their analyses.
Perez-Garcia et al. (1997, 2002) used changes in
either net primary productivity or total ecosystem
carbon to adjust the annual growth of timber in dif-
ferent regions of the world. Because the ecological
results suggested either more net primary productiv-
ity or ecosystem carbon in the long run in most eco-
systems, the supply of timber expanded and timber
market welfare increased.
Sohngen et al. (2001) used changes in net pri-
mary productivity to adjust annual growth as well,
but they also accounted for disturbance and move-
ment in species over time. To capture disturbance,
they assumed that any change in ecosystem type
from the baseline to the climate scenario resulted in
dieback of the existing species. They then allowed
the timber model to choose whether to regenerate
new forest types in regions where dieback occurred
if the new ecosystem type was indeed forest. In their
model, the long-run supply of timber expanded be-
cause the overall area of forest land was projected
to increase and net primary productivity in forests
increased. Although they linearized the pace of the
impacts, their results suggested that some regions,
such as North America, could experience negative
market outcomes, even though long-run productivity
in forests was projected to increase.
Regional Impacts
Regional impacts on outputs and producer returns
from various studies are summarized in Table 4.2.
The United States remains the most widely studied
country in terms of estimates of economic impacts
of climate change in timber markets (see Joyce et
al. 1995, Sohngen and Mendelsohn 1998, 1999, Ir-
land et al. 2001, Joyce et al. 2001, Alig et al. 2002).
There are few studies of the economic impact of
climate change on timber markets in other regions,
although the global models do provide insights into
the potential effects in most regions. Regional studies
in these other regions are largely a collection of eco-
logical assessments of the impacts of climate change
on net annual increment, holding timber harvests at
baseline levels (e.g. Lelyakin et al. 1997, Nabuurs
et al. 2002).
By and large, studies in the USA have found
that climate change likely will reduce prices for
wood products and increase output in the USA.
These changes will in turn benefit consumers, but
potentially harm producers. Effects in the USA, how-
ever, have been found to vary from region to region.
Sohngen and Mendelsohn (1998, 1999) suggest that
producers in the southern and Pacific north-west-
ern USA could experience the negative economic
impacts of climate change, while producers in the
north-eastern and north central USA gain. Because
climate change reduces prices, regions with large
inventories of merchantable trees have the biggest
potential losses in asset value. Burket et al. (2000)
found similar results for the southern USA using a
regional economic model for just that region. Alig et
al. (2002), however, suggest that output is likely to
expand more in the southern USA than the northern
US as climate changes.
Results for the USA and Canada derived from
global models are largely consistent with the re-
gional analyses. Sohngen and Sedjo (2005) illustrate
that output in North America depends on whether
there are large-scale disturbance events related to
climate change. Specifically, if climate change in-
creases disturbance-related forest dieback, output in
North America is projected to decline. The largest
impacts on output are projected to occur in north-
ern and western mountain regions, suggesting rela-
tively larger potential impacts in Canada. Because
prices are lower due to the expansion in global out-
put, producer returns decline if dieback occurs in
North America. The results in Sohngen and Sedjo
(2005) illustrate how sensitive output and producer
returns in regions of the world are both to changes
in disturbance regimes and climate impacts in other
countries. Although they do not explicitly account
for changes in disturbance regimes, Perez-Garcia et
al. (2002) also find that producer returns decline in
Canada and the USA.
Photo 4.1 It has been projected that globally climate change will increase the supply of timber in the
long term.
Gerardo Mery: Roundwood exports from Chile
Nabuurs et al. (2002) and Karjalainen et al. (2003)
utilize the EFISCEN model to assess the influence
of climate change on forest stocks and markets in
Europe until 2050. Their results indicate that climate
change will increase net annual increment in forests
up to the middle of the century. They do not estimate
the effects of these changes on consumers and pro-
ducers, but they instead assume that harvests follow
the same path with and without climate-change im-
pacts on forest growth (suggesting that there would
not any economic impacts in markets). Given the
strong increase in net annual increment with climate
change projected by their model, however, economic
theory tells us that timber production would increase
in Europe, and timber prices would fall as a result
of climate change.
Sohngen et al. (2001) find that output in Europe
increases with climate change this century. The re-
sults in Perez-Garcia et al. (2002) show both increas-
es and decreases in output depending on the specific
scenario in their analysis. Lower global timber prices
in both models cause producer returns to decline as
a result of climate change.
Lelyakin et al. (1997) examine the effects of
climate change on Russian forests over a relatively
short time period (until 2020). They show increased
net annual growth through all of Russia by 2020,
with the largest increases in the northernmost ar-
eas, suggesting that forest output in Russia would
expand as climate changes. Sohngen et al. (2001)
do show output expanding in Russia modestly up to
2050 (2–6% relative to base), but then more rapidly
to the end of the century (7–18% relative to base).
Producer returns in Russia decline despite the in-
crease in output due to the reduction in prices caused
by climate change.
Over the past 30 years, timber production in re-
gions such as Australia, New Zealand and South
America has increased dramatically, due to the ex-
pansion of fast-growing plantation species. For the
most part, these trends are expected to continue, and
strengthen, in the absence of climate change. For
example, Perez-Garcia et al. (2002) suggest that
output will expand 10–13% over the next 50 years
in Chile, and Sohngen et al. (2001) suggest similar
gains (10–20%) in output over the next 50 years
in South America, with stronger gains thereafter
(20–50%). The results in Sohngen et al. (2001) do
show potential losses in output in Australia and New
Zealand as a result of the ecological predictions they
Only one of the studies with results reported in
Table 4.2 has examined impacts in developing re-
gions, such as Africa, South-east Asia and China.
The results of that study (Sohngen et al. 2001) in-
dicate that output and forestry revenues increase in
the countries of those regions due to rising timber
yields and adaptation by shifting to shorter rotation
species. As in South America, foresters are projected
to expand their output by continuing a shift towards
short rotation species as climate changes.
Table 4.2 Economic estimates of climate change impacts on output and producer returns.
Region Output Producer returns
2000–2050 2050–2100
North America
–4 to +10% +12 to +16% Decreases
–4 to +5% +2 to +13% Decreases
+2 to +6% +7 to +18% Decreases
South America
+10 to +20% +20 to +50% Increases
Australia/New Zealand
–3 to +12% –10 to +30% Decreases & Increases
+5 to +14% +17 to +31% Increases
+10 to +11% +26 to +29% Increases
South-east Asia
+4 to +10% +14 to +30% Increases
Alig et al. (2002), Irland et al. (2001), Joyce et al. (1995, 2001), Perez-Garcia et al. (1997, 2002), Sohngen et al. (2001),
Sohngen and Mendelsohn (1998, 1999), Sohngen and Sedjo (2005)
Karjalainen et al. (2003), Nabuurs et al. (2002), Perez-Garcia et al. (2002), Sohngen et al. (2001)
Lelyakin et al. (1997), Sohngen et al. (2001)
Lelyakin et al. (1997), Sohngen et al. (2001)
Perez Garcia et al. (1997, 2002), Sohngen et al. (2001)
Sohngen et al. (2001)
4.2.2 Non-Wood Products
Importance of Non-Wood Forest Products to
Forest-Dependent Communities
Forests and woodlands are increasingly recognized
for their precious biological resources beyond timber
which sustain the livelihoods of hundreds of mil-
lions of people in forest-dependent and adjacent ag-
ricultural communities, and contribute significantly
to their domestic energy, food- and health-security
needs. These non-timber forest resources include
fuelwood and charcoal, and wood used for tools,
carving and other household purposes; they also in-
clude non-wood forest products (NWFPs) such as
livestock fodder, gums, resins, honey, fruits, nuts,
tubers, mushrooms, spices, fish, wild meat and other
wild foods, plants and oils for pharmaceuticals and
cosmetic products, as well as rattans and bamboos
(De Beer and McDermott 1989, FAO 1995, 1999,
CIFOR 1999, Belcher 2003). For the rural poor living
in and adjacent to forests, NWFPs provide essential
food and nutrition, medicine, fodder, fuel, thatch and
construction materials, mulch and non-farm income.
Forests often serve an important ‘safety net’ func-
tion, providing some measure of relief during the
‘hunger periods’ in the agricultural cycle through
their provision of wild foods (Arnold and Townson
1998, Falconer 1990, McSweeney 2004).
Despite their importance to forest-dependent
people worldwide, accurate information on market-
ing and use of NWFPs is limited and often mixed
with agricultural production statistics. The 2000 FAO
Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) NWFP com-
ponent found a significant lack of quantitative data
at the national level on both NWFP resources and
products (FAO 2001). Statistical data, if accessible
at all, is limited to export data for a selected number
of internationally traded NWFPs. For the industrial-
ized temperate and boreal countries, data on quanti-
ties and monetary values (global import values) are
available for Christmas trees, cork and a number of
species of mushroom (such as truffles), berries, me-
dicinal plants, decorative foliage, game meat, hides
and pelts, honey and nuts (see Table 4.3).
Through their experience with forest-dependent
communities, forestry experts have recently begun
to appreciate the enormous significance of NWFPs
for sustaining rural livelihoods. In recent years, a
growing body of scientific research has shown that,
given certain basic conditions, non-wood forest re-
sources can help communities to meet their needs
on a sustainable basis (FAO 1995). There is strong
evidence that the poorest of the rural poor are the
most dependent on forests and woodlands to meet
their domestic energy needs for cooking and heating,
and for a wide variety of NWFPs (Neumann and
Hirsch 2000), and that the poor frequently depend
on their collection as an ‘employment of last resort’
(Angelsen and Wunder 2003). Regardless of the
real and potential importance of NWFPs, national
institutions are not carrying out standard monitor-
ing of these resources or assessments of their socio-
economic contribution.
Collection and sale of NWFPs can provide em-
ployment during slack periods of the agricultural
cycle and provide a buffer against climatic risk and
household emergencies (Iqbal 1993, Cavendish
2000). In many rural sub-Saharan Africa communi-
ties, for example, NWFPs may supply over 50% of
a farmer’s cash income and provide the health needs
for over 80% of the population (FAO 2004).
NWFPs that enter into global trade statistics,
Table 4.3 Global import values of selected NWFPs for 1992–2002 (FAO 2005a).
Commodity description Global import value (1000 USD)
1992 2002
Mosses and lichens for bouquet, ornamental purposes 9 352 25 476
Truffles, fresh or chilled 4 201 23 656
Mushrooms other than agaricus, fresh or chilled n.a 364 412
Mushrooms & truffles, dried n.a 219 548
Plants & parts, pharmacy, perfume, insecticide use 689 926 777 980
Rattan used primarily for plaiting 118 987 51 327
Maple sugar and maple syrup 43 632 116 202
Ginseng roots 38 345 221 435
Palm hearts, otherwise prepared or preserved 16 082 67 514
Oak or chestnut extract 8 653 917
Gum Arabic 101 312 105 510
Natural cork, raw or simply prepared 7 874 110 702
such as bamboo, rattan, cork, gum arabic, aromatic
oils and medicinal plants, can attain high prices in
comparison with NWFPs traded on national markets,
and contribute to national economic development.
Rattan, for example, is one of the most important
commercial non-wood forest products in Asia (FAO
2005a). More than 700 million people worldwide
trade or use rattan for a variety of purposes. Do-
mestic trade and subsistence use of rattan and rattan
products is valued at an estimated USD 3 billion
per annum, and another USD 4 billion is generated
through international trade, according to assessment
made by the International Rattan and Bamboo Net-
work (INBAR 2007).
Different types of NWFPs are used for subsis-
tence and in support of small-scale, household-based
enterprises, so their contribution to improving adap-
tive capacity of local people through diversification
of local economies and livelihoods is beginning to be
recognized. Moreover, locally traded NWFPs con-
tribute to the fulfilment of daily needs and provide
employment and income, mainly for rural people and
especially women. In eastern and northern Sudan, for
example, Doum (Hyphaene thebaica) forests provide
a diversity of non-timber forest products of great
importance in the rural economy. These products
include: sa’af, or fibre from the leaves of young trees
used for the manufacture of ropes, baskets and mats;
fuelwood and charcoal; and edible nuts, the kernels
of which produce ‘vegetable ivory’. In addition, the
timber from mature trees provides a strong and du-
rable building material for house construction and
posts. The manufacture of handicrafts from Doum
is predominantly the task of women, thus providing
an important source of income at the household level
(Abdel Magid 2001).
Potential impacts of climate change on the forest-
dependent poor and their subsistence use of wood
fuels and NWFPs
The impact of climate change on NWFP is an area
that requires greater attention from the research
community (Easterling et al. 2007). The site spe-
cific nature of both climate change and the provision
of NWFP services complicate the understanding of
climate change impacts on NWFPs (e.g. Irland et al.
2001). In general, the influences of climate change on
these goods and services are more difficult to assess
because of high uncertainty regarding ecological ef-
fects of climate change, and also because data on the
current and projected future demand for these prod-
ucts is incomplete at the global as well as regional
and national levels. As Easterling et al. (2007, p. 290)
point out ‘climate change will substantially impact
other services, such as seeds, nuts, hunting, resins,
plants used in pharmaceutical and botanical medi-
cine, and in the cosmetics industry; these impacts
will also be highly diverse and regionalized’.
Climate change is expected to result, in many
regions, in increased frequency and severity of ex-
Box 4.2 Gum arabic
Gum arabic is one of the most important NWFPs
in Sudan. It is an exudate from Acacia senegal tree
obtained by bark tapping. Gum arabic production is
one of the main activities and source of economic
stability in the arid rural areas of Kordofan and Dar-
fur regions of Sudan, where all community members
(men, women and children) take part in gum-arabic
operations i.e. tapping, collection, sorting, cleaning
and marketing. In all, more than five million people
work in planting trees, gum production and market-
ing of gum Arabic in the Sudan.
Over the years traditional farmers in the Suda-
nese gumbelt have developed a close relationship
with, and a comprehensive husbandry system for,
this tree (known as Hashab in Arabic). In ideal set-
tings a farmer will divide his landholding into four
parts, each managed differently for production of
Hashab and/or agricultural crops. These four sys-
tems include: mature Hashab trees; younger trees
among which crops are interplanted; pure cropping
where soil fertility is declining and will soon be
planted or allowed to regenerate naturally with
Hashab; and new cropping areas which had been
under trees for 15–20 years (Abdel Nour 2003).
This system is currently being modified (less area
allocated for cropping with a greater emphasis on
Hashab management) to adapt to land shortages
and declining rainfall.
Assessment of current and long-term impacts of
climate change (2030 and 2060) on gum arabic pro-
duction has been conducted in Sudan (GoS, 2003).
The study indicated that a rise in temperature as-
sociated with increased water stress would lower
gum arabic production significantly. A southward
shift in the natural distribution of this tree species
is already being detected and is projected to con-
tinue with declining rainfall. It is estimated that this
will result in a reduction in gum arabic production,
region-wide, of between 25% and 30%.
treme climate events such as heat stress, droughts
and flooding in the coming decades. In particular, it
will modify the risks of fires and pest and pathogen
outbreaks, with negative consequences for food, bre
and forest production including NWFPs (Easterling
et al. 2007). In regions with large forest-dependent
populations, particularly in Africa, expected decreas-
es in rainfall, and increased severity and frequency
of drought, can be expected to exacerbate current
exploitation pressures on forest and expansion of
agriculture into forest lands. In these regions, this can
be expected to impose additional stresses on people
who depend on fuelwood for their domestic energy
needs and NWFPs for their livelihoods.
FAO (2005b) points out that smallholder and sub-
sistence farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk in devel-
oping countries may not be able to cope with climate
change effectively due to their reduced adaptive ca-
pacity and higher climate vulnerability. Eastaugh’s
(2008) multidisciplinary review of adaptation of for-
ests to climate change found that climate change is
expected to impact heavily forest-dwelling commu-
nities with no other source of sustenance. The lack of
support infrastructure and effective governance sys-
tem can further increase vulnerability (Adger 1999,
Adger et al. 2003, Brockington 2007). This review
also highlighted the current research gaps in this area
such as: socio-economic effects of climate-change
impacts on subsistence lifestyles of forest-dependent
communities and the role of forest in adaptation re-
sponses within different sectors and regions. Other
important research gaps, identified by the 4th IPCC
assessment report, include the integrated assessment
of climate-change impacts on ecosystem services in-
cluding on food, fibre, forestry and fisheries, and the
relationship between biodiversity and the resilience
of ecosystem services at a scale relevant to human
well-being (IPCC 2007).
Contribution of NWFPs to Climate Change
The sustainable management of forests and trees out-
side forests for non-timber forest products and ben-
efits presents a range of potential adaptation options,
Photo 4.2 Climate change is expected to have negative effects on NWFP production in many regions.
This can impose additional stresses on people who depend on fuelwood for domestic energy and NWFPs
for livelihoods.
Erkki Oksanen: Picking mushrooms in Finland
Matti Nummelin: Collecting fuelwood in Niger
particularly for rural people in developing countries.
In semi-arid regions trees not only improve natural
rangelands but also provide browse, which is often
the only fodder available at critical times of the dry
season and during drought years.
Traditional forest-management practices for the
production of different types of NWFPs such as
fruits, medicine, gums and honey exist in many for-
est-dependent communities worldwide. The revival
and further development of this local knowledge and
management practices for sustainable production of
NWFPs may represent an important element in the
adaptation responses of forest-dependent people to
climate change, although the rich indigenous knowl-
edge and associated social institutions and gover-
nance structures that support these local practices
are disappearing in many regions, as discussed be-
low in sub-chapter 4.5 and in Chapter 5 (sub-chapter
5.1.2). Moreover, such knowledge may be critical
for the development of effective strategies for cop-
ing with anticipated changes in forest productivity
and frequency of disturbances. For example, tradi-
tional approaches, combined with insights from for-
est science, could be used to develop new planting
schemes: afforestation, reforestation and degraded
land rehabilitation and forest landscape restoration
programmes using tree species and varieties that are
both adapted to anticipated climatic conditions and
are valued by local communities; agroforestry sys-
tems that include valued tree and plant species which
may become increasingly rare in natural forests due
to climate-induced changes in forest structure; and
domestication of high-value medicinal plants or other
NWFPs on farms and in home gardens (Sampson et
al. 2000, Parrotta 2002). Moreover, Carmenza et al.
(2005) highlighted that the promotion of agroforestry
systems as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
projects can result in additional positive impacts,
including increased food security or diversification
of farmer incomes through production and sale of
4.3 Regulating Services
4.3.1 Hydrological Regulation and
Water Quality
Among the key forest ecosystem services which
are expected to be affected by climate change are
those related to hydrological regulation and water
quality. These include, among others: the regulation
of run-off and river discharge; the maintenance or
improvement of water quality through forest filter-
ing and retention of freshwater for consumptive use;
buffering against coastal damage by tropical storms
and tsunamis (see Box 4.3 on mangrove forests).
As discussed in Chapter 3, the projected future
hydrological impacts of climate change on forests,
as well as the opportunities and vulnerabilities which
these changes present, are highly variable both be-
tween and among the world forest domains. Here we
consider the socio-economic implications of these
forest impacts, and climate change-induced land-
use changes that will affect the capacity of forested
landscapes to provide users with adequate supplies
of fresh water.
Changes in water availability may be influenced
by the changes in terrestrial freshwater systems likely
to be affected by climate change (Box 4.4). These
may in turn be exacerbated by changes in land-use
patterns (Brouwer and Falkernmark 1989). Both
extremes of very wet and dry conditions predicted
for water availability (IPCC 2007, see also Chapter
3) have major socio-economic implications on hu-
man well-being and land-use change patterns (e.g.
agriculture, urban activities, waste water disposal),
which may place further pressure on forests (through
their conversion and/or degradation) and negatively
affect their capacity to provide key regulating ser-
Climate change impacts on water and soil re-
source are likely to increase existing socio-economic
vulnerabilities and adversely affect livelihoods and
national development plans, especially in develop-
ing countries. At present, soil erosion and extreme
weather events (floods and droughts) that affect water
availability and quality present major global envi-
ronmental challenges (OMAFRA 2003, Pimentel et
al. 1995, Sophocleous 2004); their socio-economic
impacts are unevenly distributed across the world,
with greater severity in poorer and more vulnerable
regions. Rapid demographic changes in most regions
are already increasing demand for water resources
and new lands for agricultural production which
climate change will, in many regions, only exac-
erbate (Rogers 1994, Vörösmarty et al. 2000). It is
estimated that developing countries will require an
additional 120 million ha of land for crops and an
expansion of irrigated areas by 40 million ha in the
next 30 years requiring 14% increase in extracted
water from surface and groundwater resources (Wil-
liams et al. 2004).
Under rain-fed agricultural systems that predomi-
nate in developing countries, decreased water avail-
ability in drought-prone regions may further limit
agricultural productivity and encourage changes in
land use, including agricultural expansion and for-
est conversion. The current increasing demand for
water in rain-fed agricultural production systems –
which account for an estimated 60–70% of global
crop production (International Rivers Network 2006)
– has in many regions resulted in significant losses
of forest hydrological services as a consequence
of deforestation of riparian and upland watershed
Box 4.3 Coastal mangroves
Coastal mangroves are an example of a widely
utilized forest resource that also provides critical
regulating services. They provide multiple provi-
sioning and regulating ecosystem services, includ-
ing providing nurseries for important fish species
and in regulating and protecting coastal areas from
floods and coastal storm surges. These ecosystem
services are highly valued in the tropical coastal
regions, yet mangrove areas have been in decline
in the past half century (Alongi 2008).
Coastal storms are projected to increase in
most regions of the world under all scenarios of
climate change, and impacts will be closely asso-
ciated with sea level rises of 3–4 mm yr
2007). With increasing erosion rates and increased
frequency or intensity of storms in the tropics, the
coastal protection function of mangroves will be-
come more critical over time. But mangrove forests
are themselves vulnerable to these impacts: their
ability to adapt successfully depends on accretion
rates relative to sea level, and while there appears
to have been adaptation to sea level rises observed
to date, such adaptation will become increasingly
difficult at higher rates of rise and with increas-
ing other pressures on mangroves for conversion
and lack of space for landward migration (Alongi
2008). Since the IPCC reports in 2007, there has
been some evidence from global assessments sug-
gesting that observed and projected sea level rises
may in fact exceed those reported in IPCC (Hansen
2007, Rahmstorf 2007), which would exacerbate
the vulnerability of mangroves.
The coastal protection function of mangroves is
well documented (Walters et al. 2008, Sathirathai
and Barbier 2001, Barbier 2006, Tri et al. 1998) and
quantified in terms of its economic contribution to
well-being. Walters et al (2008) review estimates
of the economic value of this protection function
ranging from USD120 per household to USD 3 700
and USD 4 700 per hectare of mangrove, depend-
ing on the method of estimation (Badola and Hus-
sain 2005, Sathirathai and Barbier 2001, Costanza
et al. 1989). While the physical principles have
been quantified to show that mangrove forests can
attenuate wave energy (Quartel et al. 2007), the
efficiency of this energy absorption and the extent
to which mangroves can reduce coastal erosion
is strongly dependent on physical properties and
vegetation dynamics. In areas such as Vietnam,
where previous deforestation has occurred, there
have been attempts at reforestation, particularly to
provide regulating services of coastal protection
(IFRC 2002). The Red Cross estimates that plant-
ing 12 000 hectares of mangroves reduced the cost
of maintaining sea dikes that protect the coast by
USD 7.3 million per year. Replanted mangroves
provide multiple functions and hence can be jus-
tified in local livelihood terms even without the
important benefits of coastal protection regulation
(Tri et al. 1998, Bosire et al. 2008).
areas (Rockström et al. 2007). This in turn jeop-
ardizes the quantity, flow rates, sedimentation and
water quality, thereby affecting other development
initiatives such as irrigation schemes for agriculture
and hydropower supply. In drought-prone regions,
anticipated reductions in water availability resulting
from climate-change impacts may encourage prompt
human (and animal) migration away from the most
severely affected areas towards more favourable ar-
eas, and thereby increase potential for conflicts over
land and water resources, including between humans
and wildlife. Such migration of people would ex-
acerbate land conversion for new settlements and
livelihood resources mostly at the expense of forest
land. Unfortunately, in spite of these close land-water
interactions and the implications of climate change,
conventional approaches to natural resources man-
agement generally address land and water separately
(Falkenmark and Lundqvist 1997).
In addition to the expected impacts of climate
change on forests’ capacity to provide adequate wa-
ter resources for agriculture, their effects on public
health, particularly for the poor, may be severe. Water
available during extreme climate events of drought
or floods is often of poor quality and is linked to a
range of health problems such as diarrhoea, intesti-
nal worms and trachoma. The burden of obtaining
safe drinking water and sufficient water for proper
sanitation and hygiene is more profound for the poor
who very often live in degraded environments and
who are predominantly women and children. Today,
20% of the total occurrence of disease in the de-
veloping world, and 34% in sub-Saharan Africa, is
associated with environmental degradation; lack of
access to safe, affordable water and sanitation con-
stitute the major threat to health in these countries.
Forest loss can contribute directly to the severity
of these health problems through disruption of the
water cycle and increased soil erosion, as well as
indirectly though very significantly through its
effects on local and global climate change, which in
turn can have a profound effect on the survival and
spread of disease pathogens (World Bank (2001).
In developing countries, drought has severe health
impacts, with widespread crop failure and food short-
ages resulting in famine. Further, drought conditions
can increase the potential for forest fires, which, in
turn, can cause loss of life or respiratory distress
due to poor air quality, as well as emotional and
psychological stresses related to mass evacuations
which can accompany both large-scale forest fires
and drought-induced famines.
4.3.2 Human Health and Well-Being
Changes in the climate are expected to lead to sig-
nificant changes in forested landscape structure and
forest biodiversity in all forest domains, as discussed
in Chapters 2 and 3 of this report. These changes
may have significant implications for human health
in many forest regions, particularly in tropical and
subtropical regions, which should be a cause for
The projected increases in the frequency and in-
tensity of forest fires in many parts of the world will
have clear impacts on human health if not prevented
or mitigated. Colfer (2001) describes the dismaying
results of the 1997–98 forest fires in East Kalim-
antan following a serious El Niño event. Climate
change specialists predict that such events will be
more frequent and more intense in the future. More
generally WHO (2002) reported that 200 million
people in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore and Thailand were affected
by these same fires. Pneumonia cases increased from
1.5 to 25 times in Southeast Kalimantan, Indonesia,
and the number of respiratory diseases increased 2-
to 3-fold in Malaysia. Vegetation fires seriously in-
crease the risk of acute respiratory infections, which
are already a major killer of young children. The
adverse health implications of breathing smoke and
other air pollutants have been clearly demonstrated
by various researchers (e.g. Smith 2008, Warwick
and Doig 2004).
Health professionals, such as Haines et al. (2006),
note additional potential effects of climate change:
extremes of temperature and rainfall (heat waves,
floods and droughts) can lead to hunger and malnu-
trition, environmental refugees and resulting mental
disorders from such catastrophes. Changes in tem-
perature and rainfall may in turn change the dis-
tribution of disease vectors; particularly worrisome
in forested areas are malaria, dengue and diarrhoea
(discussed further below). Sea level rise can threaten
low-lying coastal forest populations, particularly
where economic conditions do not allow adequate
control measures.
Gaining an understanding of the disease impli-
cations of climate change in forested areas is par-
ticularly difficult, because much of the literature on
disease does not specify whether the area is forested
or not. Of those diseases that are common in for-
ests and projected to increase with climate change,
the most thoroughly studied is malaria. While the
number of studies has been increasing over time,
there is no broad scientific consensus regarding the
likely future impacts of climate change on malaria
in forested regions (cf. Matola et al. 1987, Hay et al.
2002, Sheil, in Colfer et al. 2006, Zhou et al. 2004).
Haggett (1994) anticipates the health implications
of climate change linked to expansion of tropical
organisms many from forested regions into tem-
perate zones, as do Patz and Wolfe (2002), COHAB2
(2008) and others. Mayer (2000) discusses various
possible health implications of warmer temperatures,
including an estimate that the population at risk of
developing malaria could rise to 2.5 billion people
under some temperature scenarios. In explaining the
re-emergence of epidemic Plasmodium falciparum
malaria in East African highlands, these authors fo-
cus on human population increase and movement
(including the presence of people without functional
immunity to local strains a very common problem
in forested regions), land-use change and tempera-
Box 4.4 Climate-change projections and
water risks (IPCC 2007)
The impacts of climate change on freshwater
systems and their management are mainly due
to observed and projected increases in tempera-
ture, sea level and precipitation variability (very
high confidence).
Increased precipitation intensity and variability
is projected to increase the risks of flooding and
drought in many areas (high confidence).
Semi-arid areas and arid areas are particularly
exposed to the impacts of climate change on
freshwater (high confidence).
Efforts to offset the decline in surface water
will be hampered by considerable decrease in
groundwater recharge (high confidence).
Vulnerability will be exacerbated by rapid in-
crease in population and water demand (very
high confidence).
Higher water temperatures, increased precipita-
tion intensity, and long periods of low flows ex-
acerbate many form of pollution, with impacts
on ecosystems, human health, water-system reli-
ability and operating costs (high confidence).
The negative effects of climate change on fresh-
water systems outweigh its benefits (high con-
For an explanation of the confidence levels see
sub-chapter 1.3.5.
ture variability as the important factors. They note
that human mortality is increased by drug resistance,
inadequate access to drugs, failure to seek treatment
in a timely manner and HIV infection.
Russell (1998), although concerned about the im-
plications of global warming for certain arbo-viruses,
also does not consider the panic in some quarters
about the increasing incidence of malaria to be war-
ranted. Specific ailments he anticipates increasing
under conditions of global warming, and which he
discusses in some detail for northern (tropical) Aus-
tralia, include Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin
viruses, with the arthritides Ross River and Barmah
Forest viruses causing more infections. He concludes
by noting that risk of increased transmission will vary
by locality, vector, host and human factors.
Graczyk (2002) emphasizes the likely climate-
related changes in zoonotic diseases more generally,
anticipating an increase in vector-borne diseases with
global warming (see Gonzalez et al. 2008 for a re-
cent, complex description of forest-disease-wildlife
interactions). Several authors (WHO 2007, Shea and
the Committee on Environmental Health 2007) em-
phasize the likely increase in diarrhoea, which is
already a major killer of children in the forests of
developing countries. They anticipate that increased
temperatures will lead to greater incidence of the
Climate-induced changes in the forest landscapes
can have effects, particularly on the cultures of those
people most dependent on the natural environment
(e.g. indigenous and forest peoples). All peoples’
mental health is related to the integrity of the cultural
systems of which they are a part, and many cultural
systems are intimately bound up with the forests
(e.g. Lewis 2005, Dounias and Colfer 2008, Gómez
2008). Climate change may induce fundamental
changes that can have debilitating effects on these
cultural systems (cf. van Haaften’s [2002] writings
on the psychological effects of Sahelian crises on the
victims). Some researchers also predict increases in
violence as a result of uncertainties and scarcities
that derive from climatic changes (cf. Richards 1996,
who documents the impacts of Sierra Leone’s wars
on its youth).
The predicted alterations of forest landscape and
forest biodiversity as a result of climate change may
reduce access to forest products forest foods, forest
medicines, fibres, timber and other NWFPs. Such
losses can also affect people’s health directly, via
lower medicinal plant availability, or indirectly, via
loss of potential marketed goods and, over time, loss
of indigenous knowledge and unique cultural uses of
such products. Many of the foods that people obtain
from wild sources (anticipated to be under increas-
ing threats) have higher nutritional value than more
familiar agricultural products (see e.g. Vinceti et al.
2008). An interdisciplinary group looking at the links
between food/nutrition and biodiversity also noted
the additional robustness of native species and wild
foods, as well as their cultural importance (COHAB2
Forest biodiversity losses are widely anticipated
results of climate change, which will affect forest-
dependent people’s access to food, medicine and
other forest products, although Jutro (1991) predicted
that greater changes will occur in high latitudes than
in the tropics. The implications for forest-derived
foods, medicines and local people are likely to be
complex and severe, but remain difficult to predict
To summarize, as with many climate-change is-
sues, the uncertainties with respect to its impact on
forests in relation to human health and well-being
outweigh the certainties. However, there is clearly
Photo 4.3 Climate change may reduce access to
traditional medicines derived from forest plants
and animals. This can have direct health effects
on people relying on such medicines or indirect
effects through the loss of marketable goods, and
over time, loss in indigenous knowledge on uses
of such products.
John Parrotta: Traditional medicines, India
significant cause for concern and for increased global
attention to developing ways to anticipate and adapt
to the harmful health effects of the coming changes.
Better monitoring of climate-change impact on hu-
man health and well-being and more effective in-
volvement of forest communities supported by their
local governments will be needed in anticipating,
monitoring and solving these problems.
4.4 Cultural Services
4.4.1 Spiritual and Cultural Values
Forests provide a wide range of benefits beyond
those related to production and regulating services.
According to the definitions for FRA 2005 (FAO
2005b), social services provided by forests include
recreation, tourism, education and conservation of
sites with cultural or spiritual importance. The area of
forests designated for social services is an indication
of the extent to which countries and forest managers
are actively considering these services as part of the
benefits that forests provide. In Europe, for example,
nearly three-quarters of the forest area is managed
to provide social services, often in combination with
other management objectives (FAO 2005b). The so-
cial functions of forests are often more difficult to
measure and vary to a great extent among countries,
depending on their level of development and tradi-
tions (FAO 2005a).
Mature forests and old trees have strong cultural
and spiritual value in many parts of the world. Sev-
eral writers have made the analogy between the in-
dividual, cultural and social characteristics of trees
and people. Rolston (1988) refers to the forest as a
religious resource and compares forests to places
of worship (i.e. cathedrals). The spiritual-religious
values of wilderness have long been noted. Societies
most closely entwined with forests tend to regard
them with a healthy respect, awe at their splendour
and majesty, sometimes dread and fear of the pow-
erful spirits that lurk within them (Laird 2004). In
rural areas in Africa, old trees represent social clubs
where community leaders meet with their people
to discuss important livelihood issues; sometimes
trees act as courtyards where villagers meet to solve
their local conflicts and disputes. These cultural and
spiritual values associated with forests and trees
outside forests underlines the importance of tak-
ing the social dimension of climate change into
consideration, particularly where changes in forest
structure and species composition are projected as a
result of climate change and its associated impacts
(changes in natural disturbance regimes i.e. fire,
pests and diseases, wind damage). A more complete
understanding of the relationship between people
and forests is needed, so that the potential effects of
climate change on the cultural services that forests
provide can be recognized and taken into consider-
ation in the development of adaptation responses to
minimize the negative social and cultural impacts
of these changes.
4.4.2 Recreation and Eco-Tourism
The Third and Fourth Assessment Reports of the In-
tergovernmental Panel on Climate Change both con-
cluded that compared to research in market sectors
like timber and agriculture, relatively little work had
been done to examine the effects of climate change on
recreation (Gitay et al. 2002, Easterling et al. 2007).
Recent reports by the US Climate Change Science
Program (Sussman et al. 2008), the Finnish Environ-
ment Institute (Sievänen et al. 2005) and Hamilton
and Tol (2007) come to similar conclusions, although
these studies do indicate that the research area is
growing and more studies are emerging
It is quite clear, given the large number of days
individuals spend in outdoor recreation (e.g. Cord-
ell et al. 1999), that the impacts of climate change
could be substantial. However, most studies examine
impacts on specific activities (e.g. skiing or fishing),
only some of which need to occur in forests. For
example, Breiling and Charamza (1999) found that
with a temperatures increase of 2ºC, high-altitude
ski areas would not necessarily lose recreational
visits, but low-altitude ski areas could have nega-
tive visitation effects. Irland et al. (2001) found that
the specific impacts for the ski area depended on
the specific impacts of climate change on that area.
Unfortunately, climate models still have substantial
variation with respect to their regional projections
of climate change.
With respect to summer recreation, Richardson
and Loomis (2004) examined visitation to a national
park in the US, and found that under two climate
scenarios, visitation would likely increase. The park
they considered, Rocky Mountain National Park in
Colorado, does include forests, but forests are not
the only attraction and it is impossible to separate
recreational impacts on forest attributes and other
attributes. Their analysis also included an ad-hoc
scenario to examine ‘extreme heat’, which suggested
that above certain thresholds in temperature, visita-
tion to natural amenities could start to decline.
One interesting study that explicitly considered
forests is Layton and Brown (2000), who found
that the residents of USA were willing to pay USD
10–100 per month for nature conservation to avoid
changes in forest structure and function associated
with climate change in the Rocky Mountains of Colo-
rado and maintain its recreational function. As ex-
pected, higher payments were associated with more
severe climate impacts in forests.
Forest ecosystems in Africa support biodiver-
sity and habitat for plants and wildlife. Eco-tour-
ism which is defined by the International Ecotour-
ism Society (TIES 2008) as: ‘responsible travel to
natural areas that conserves the environment and
improves the well-being of local people’ is threat-
ened by climate variability. According to the IPCC
(2007) climate change may increase the frequency
of flooding, drought and land degradation in Africa,
and subsequently reduce biodiversity (one pillar of
ecotourism) and the viability of recreation activities
and wildlife safaris. More frequent droughts may
also increase the pressure on the reserve by pasto-
ralists, which may in turn change the human use of
land adjacent to the reserve, on which wildlife in the
reserve interacts. Ecotourism has been viewed by
many as a viable option for improving rural liveli-
hoods in Africa that could be one possible replace-
ment for farm income. However, there is a great need
for research and technology in Africa to assess the
impact of climate change on ecotourism, particularly
on sensitive ecosystems of high touristic value such
as the rainforest of the Congo Basin and mountainous
biodiversity (Viner and Agnew 1999).
4.5 Relationship between
Governance and Socio-
Economic Impacts
4.5.1 Governance
All adaptations to changing ecosystem service
availability will involve either actions by individu-
als changing their forest use, or collective action
in changing the rules by which individuals use and
consume ecosystems services. Hence adaptation to
climate change essentially involves altering and ad-
justing governance structures. Adaptations will take
place in reaction to changes in forest productivity,
ecosystem change and changes in the provision of
ecosystem services from forests and in anticipation
of such changes. This sub-chapter highlights two
issues. First, it examines whether inappropriate or
absent governance and forest policy environments
could amplify or exacerbate climate-change impacts
in terms of vulnerability of services and forest-de-
pendent people. Second, this sub-chapter examines
the potential for adaptations to policies and gover-
nance structures to ameliorate and reduce such risks
and vulnerabilities. Specifically it examines how the
globally observed trend towards decentralized re-
sponsibility for the management of forests directly
affects the adaptive capacity of the forest sector to
cope with shocks such as climate change. It con-
cludes that the impacts of climate change on forest
ecosystem provisioning, regulating and cultural ser-
vices can be ameliorated by human actions to adapt
and manage risks associated with these impacts, but
that there are significant barriers to action.
4.5.2 Double Exposure of Socio-Eco-
nomic Impacts to Climate Change and
Inappropriate Governance
It is well established that lack of accountability, un-
clear property rights and rent-seeking directly af-
fect outcomes such as forest integrity and rates of
exploitation. In addition, there is some evidence that
the breakdown of governance structures can cause
or exacerbate conflict over scarce resources such as
forests, and that failures in policy environments are
likely to exacerbate the difficulty in adapting forest
management to a changing set of climate-related
risks. Hence it can be hypothesised that a lack of
sustainable forest management and governance
structures will exacerbate the socio-economic vul-
nerabilities identified in this chapter.
Analysis of the causes and consequences of lack
of governance and the skewed ownership and control
of natural resources often uses cross-national statisti-
cal analysis. Mikkelson et al. (2007), for example,
show that countries with more unequal distributions
of income have experienced greater loss of biodiver-
sity as measured through loss of natural habitat such
as forests. It should be noted, however, that some
analysts have questioned the validity of the meth-
odologies involved in conducing global regression
analysis of deforestation (Kaimowitz and Angelsen
2004). Deacon (1994) and Smith et al. (2003) show
similar results for forest cover related to levels of
corruption. Mikkelson et al. (2007) argue that vulner-
abilities are transmitted through the mechanisms of
skewed land ownership and lack of accountability.
Continuing trends of unaccountable decision-making
are likely to make adaptation to climate change more
A further consequence of failure of governance
structures to promote sustainable forest management
is the potential for reductions in forest ecosystem
services induced by climate-change impacts to exac-
erbate conflict and non-cooperation over remaining
resources, creating downward spirals of unsustain-
able resource use and well-being of those dependent
on them. The evidence base in this area is relatively
weak, especially in the context of forest resources
(Nordas and Gledditich, 2007). Yet it can be inferred
from research on causes of displacement migration,
violent conflict and resource management that cli-
mate change may aggravate already existing conflicts
in the forest sector, or deepen the conflict between
forests for conservation and forests for livelihoods
(Fairhead and Leach 1995, Bannon and Collier 2003,
McNeely 2003). Hence the vulnerabilities and socio-
economic impacts on forests highlighted in this chap-
ter are likely to be exacerbated in situations where
forests are over-exploited.
4.5.3 Governance Mechanisms
to Reduce Vulnerability
Changes in policy that promote sustainable forest
management and the maintenance of forest ecosys-
tem services will at the same time reduce the vul-
nerability of forest- dependent people. The question
remains whether current trends in forest governance
can potentially decrease resilience. Current trends,
as identified by Agrawal et al. (2008), include ‘de-
centralization of forest management, logging conces-
sions in publicly owned commercially valuable for-
ests, and timber certification, primarily in temperate
forests’. These trends are confirmed by work from
other authors for cases of forest management in West
Africa and South-east Asia (Barr et al. 2001, Ribot
2002, Wollenberg and Kartodiharjo 2002).
According to Ribot et al. (2006), Colfer and Cap-
istrano (2005), Agrawal and Ribot (1999), Tacconi
(2007) and others, decentralization has the potential
to increase local-level capacities to deal with climate
change and related threats. But the empirical evidence
on whether these benefits are realised is contested
(Ribot et al. 2006, Tacconi et al. 2006, Tacconi 2007).
A case study on forest ecosystem goods and services
and adaptation from Burkina Faso shows that a de-
centralized governance system may offer maximum
space for adaptation to climate-change impacts due
to the potential of governance at the local level. But
the use of such space for adaptation is dependent
upon individual and organizational experiences ex-
periences with climate change as the context-related
challenge and the experiences with the new roles
and responsibilities in a changing institutional en-
vironment as a structural challenge (Brockhaus and
Kambire 2009). Hence co-management and other
decentralization of forest management, while hav-
ing the potential to reduce vulnerabilities identified
in this chapter, face significant barriers in realizing
their potential.
4.6 Conclusions
Despite uncertainties associated with current cli-
mate and ecosystem model projections, the associ-
ated changes in the provision of forest ecosystem
services are expected to be significant in many
parts of the world.
The vulnerability of forest systems is related not
just to the direct and indirect impacts of climate
change, but also to anthropogenic impacts, par-
ticularly land-use change and deforestation, which
are likely to be extremely important in many parts
of the world. These will present significant social
and economic challenges for affected communi-
ties and society as a whole, particularly among
the forest-dependent poor, who are already high-
ly vulnerable in many countries throughout the
world, especially in the tropical and subtropical
Economic studies of climate change rely on cli-
mate and ecological modelling to determine how
changes in climate variables influence important
ecological drivers of annual timber output. Some
of the most important factors that have been mod-
elled to date are: changes in the growth of timber
as a result of changing net primary productivity
or biomass production; changes in disturbance
patterns; changes in the geographic distribution
of species. The results of most studies suggest that
climate change will increase timber production
globally, although output could decline in some
regions and during some time periods. While re-
ductions in output or reductions in timber prices
will have negative effects on timber producers in
some regions, timber consumers will benefit from
lower prices.
Regions that appear most susceptible to climate-
change impacts on timber production over the next
50 years are North America, Europe, Australia
and New Zealand. Output in North America and
Europe could decline in the next 50 years due
to climate-induced dieback of existing stocks of
timber and lower investments in timber produc-
tion due to lower prices. These changes, however,
are expected to be modest, with output increasing
over the second half of the century. In contrast,
output in Russia is expected to expand modestly
through the first half of the century, with stronger
increases later in the century.
In order to understand better the regional impacts
of climate change on timber outputs, it is impera-
tive to build a better understanding of the underly-
ing change in climate. The existing studies show
that the results over the first half of this century are
most susceptible to the effects of climate-related
forest dieback. Anything that has a large effect on
accessible stocks in regions that currently produce
a large portion of the world’s timber will have
large impacts on markets. Thus stronger dieback
effects in temperate and boreal regions would lead
to larger negative impacts in those regions and
Non-timber forest products are important sources
of income and livelihood security for forest-de-
pendent people, and often provide a ‘safety net’
for agricultural communities during periods of
economic stress due to crop failures that may be-
come more common as a result of climate change.
Efforts to promote sustainable management, lo-
cal processing and marketing of non-timber for-
est products can help to enhance incomes and
buffer agricultural livelihood impacts of climate
Changing forest structure and plant and animal
species composition may present opportunities for
utilization of new forest species in some regions,
but decrease availability of non-timber products
for sustenance or commercial use derived from
species that will become rarer. Taking advantage
of opportunities and reducing vulnerabilities as-
sociated with changing availability of non-timber
forest products may require new approaches to
forest management to sustain their productivity
and special measures, such as ex-situ conserva-
tion and development of domestication/ cultiva-
tion practices for key non-timber forest products,
e.g. for high-value tree and other plant species in
agricultural, agroforestry and silvo-pastoral sys-
Potential impacts of climate change on non-wood
forest products and other services provided by
forests are not well researched. Consequently the
contribution of forests to adaptive capacity of lo-
cal communities are not well understood. More
work is needed to generate the information on
forest-related adaptation strategies.
Both extremes of very wet and dry conditions
predicted for water availability have major socio-
economic implications on human well-being and
land-use change patterns (e.g. agriculture, urban
activities, waste-water disposal), which may
place further pressure on forests (through their
conversion and/or degradation) and negatively
affect their capacity to provide key regulating
The projected increases in the frequency and in-
tensity of forest fires in many parts of the world
will have clear impacts on human health if not
prevented or mitigated. The predicted alterations
of forest landscape and forest biodiversity as a
result of climate change may reduce access to for-
est products. Such losses can also affect people’s
health directly, via lower medicinal plant avail-
ability, or indirectly, via loss of potential marketed
goods and, over time, loss of indigenous knowl-
edge and unique cultural uses of such products.
Gaining an understanding of the disease implica-
tions of climate change in forested areas is particu-
larly difficult, because much of the literature on
disease does not specify whether the area is forest-
ed or not. However, it is expected that changes in
temperature and rainfall will change the distribu-
tion of disease vectors; particularly worrisome in
forested areas are malaria, dengue and diarrhoea.
Sea level rise can threaten low-lying coastal forest
populations, particularly where economic condi-
tions do not allow adequate control measures.
Climate-change impacts on forest can be exacer-
bated by lack of sustainable forest management
and governance structures which in turn will ex-
acerbate the socio-economic vulnerabilities. The
highlighted vulnerabilities and socio-economic
impacts on forests are likely to be exacerbated in
situations where forests are over-exploited. It is
argued that vulnerabilities are transmitted through
the mechanisms of skewed land ownership and
lack of accountability. Continuing trends of un-
accountable decision-making is likely to make
adaptation to climate change more difficult.
Failure of governance structures to promote sus-
tainable forest management has the potential for
reducing forest ecosystem services induced by
climate-change impacts, exacerbate conflict and
non-cooperation over remaining resources, and
eventually create downward spirals of unsustain-
able resource use and well-being of those depen-
dent on them. It is likely that climate change can
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... Indigenous and local communities in many parts of the world are already feeling the effects of current climate change on their lands in ways that jeopardize their cultures, livelihoods, food security and, in some cases, their very survival (UNPFII 2007 ; Macchi et al. 2008 ; Nilsson 2008 ; Collings 2009 ; Osman-Elasha et al. 2009 ) . Despite our limited ability to accurately quantify and predict the magnitude of future climate change impacts of forests in specifi c localities, the expected or potential impacts of climate change on forest ecosystem structure and function are likely to have far-reaching consequences for the well-being of people in affected areas. ...
... Despite our limited ability to accurately quantify and predict the magnitude of future climate change impacts of forests in specifi c localities, the expected or potential impacts of climate change on forest ecosystem structure and function are likely to have far-reaching consequences for the well-being of people in affected areas. At risk are such goods and services such as: timber, fuelwood and essential non-wood forest products, suffi cient clean water for consumptive use, and other services required to meet people's basic nutritional, health and cultural needs (Easterling et al. 2007 ; Colfer et al. 2006 ; Osman-Elasha et al. 2009 ) . The observations and experiences to date of indigenous communities throughout the world have been compiled in an overview of more than 400 research studies, case studies and projects published by the United Nations University's Institute of Advanced Studies' Traditional Knowledge Initiative (Galloway-McLean 2010 ) . ...
... In dry and semiarid regions of the world, indigenous and local societies have developed a wide variety of strategies based on traditional forest-related knowledge to cope with recurrent droughts that periodically threaten their food security. These include traditional technologies developed to manage wild and cultivated trees that provide food, fodder, and other non-timber forest products; and practices to harvest and conserve scarce water resources in traditional silvopastoral and agroforestry systems (Laureano 2005 ; Osman-Elasha et al. 2009 ) . Traditional societies worldwide have devised a range of agricultural techniques designed to conserve soil fertility (and soil carbon) and maintain productivity of a range of food crops even during extended periods of drought. ...
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The holders and users of traditional forest-related knowledge are on the front lines of global efforts to deal with climate change and its impacts. Because of their close connection with, and high dependence on, forest ecosystems and landscapes, indigenous and local communities are among the first to witness, understand, and experience the impacts of climate change on forests and woodlands as well as on their livelihoods and cultures. The history of forest and agricultural landscape management practices of indigenous and local communities based on their traditional knowledge offer insights into principles and approaches that may be effective in coping with, and adapting to, climate change in the years ahead. Global, regional, national and local efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, however, have not yet given adequate attention either to the forest-related knowledge and practices of traditional communities, or to the interests, needs and rights of local and indigenous communities in the formulation of policies and programmes to combat climate change. Due consideration of, and a more prominent role for, traditional forest-related knowledge and its practitioners could lead to the development of more effective and equitable approaches for facing the challenges posed by climate change while enhancing prospects for sustainable management of forest resources.
... Traditional agricultural, forest and woodland management, and animal husbandry practices based on traditional knowledge have often developed over countless generations, and by necessity have required adaptation to uncertain environmental conditions such as periodic drought (Ajibade and Shokemi 2003 ;Nyong et al. 2007). In the context of climate change, which is likely to exacerbate the vulnerability of local communities throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa (Parry et al. 2007) , traditional knowledge and practices represent an important element of the adaptive capacity of rural communities (Simel 2008 ;Galloway-McLean 2010 ;Osman-Elasha et al. 2009). For example, the monitoring of grazing pressure and the state of the pasture by herders of the Sahel enables them to make informed decisions about rotating or relocating herds (Niamir-Fuller 1998) , an important adaptation to their unpredictable, low-rainfall environment (Coughenour et al. 1985). ...
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The rich body of traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK) in Africa has been widely acknowledged as important for its contribution to current global efforts towards sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation. While many rural communities in Africa continue to observe their age-old traditions in relation to forests to ensure the provision of their livelihoods, other communities have lost their traditions for many reasons, including their forced or voluntary cultural alienation from forests, reduced dependence on forests for rural livelihoods, and extensive urbanization. Nonetheless, many communities throughout Africa are still living in or near the continent’s diverse range of forest ecosystems and continue to depend on these forests for their livelihoods. A documentation of how communities have successfully managed these forests to provide for their needs until the present day can serve many useful purposes, including for evidence-based sharing of experiences or case studies, research adoption and uptake, and knowledge transfer and training in forestry curricula. In this chapter, we provide a general background on traditional forest-related knowledge in Africa; its historical and present contributions to food security and rural livelihoods; the present ­challenges faced by the holders and users of this knowledge; and opportunities for its preservation, enhancement, and application to help solve pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges, including the conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity.
... Researchers concerned with SFM of tropical forests argue that trans ferring a varying degree of responsibility to the local communities who get their livelihood from them can lead to better forest management outcomes (Bray, Merino-Pérez et al. 2003; Contreras-Hermosilla, Gregerson et al. 2006). In addition, such decentralization of decision-making has the potential to increase local-level capacities to deal with climate change and related threats (Agrawal and Ribot 1999; Os man-Elasha and Parrotta 2009; Ribot et al. 2006). However, the individual and organizational experiences with decentralization vary widely and significant barriers may exist that hinder the potential positive effects of decentraliza tion on both forest management and adaptation to climate change. ...
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The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development's (UNCED) Rio Declaration and Statement of principles for the sustainable management of forests were adopted in 1992, with the objective of initiating sustainable forest management (SFM) to ensure conservation and maintenance of ecosystem services while still allowing for continual use of forests for economic, social and cultural purposes. Since then many other Criteria and Indicator (C&I) frameworks have been developed, reflecting the growing worldwide demand for socially and environmentally responsible forestry. Much research has been devoted to designing and refining appropriate C&Is to reflect the particular ecological, socio-cultural, economic and political characteristics of distinct forests. This work has expanded the definition of SFM and facilitated monitoring of local management actions. However, increased decentralization of forestry governance and the rise of community forestry worldwide in the past decade are rapidly transforming the face of forestry and forest services across local and international scales. In light of this trend, we revisit current C&I frameworks – which have been based on fixed expectations and measurements of stable processes against past conditions – to ask: are they still relevant? In this paper we present an analysis of case studies where this change is occurring. Within each case study, we seek to identify the limits of current C&I frameworks for addressing the shifting trends and dynamic processes that affect forest management outcomes. Recommendations for adapting current C&I frameworks are discussed.
... Traditional agricultural, forest and woodland management, and animal husbandry practices based on traditional knowledge have often developed over countless generations , and by necessity have required adaptation to uncertain environmental conditions such as periodic drought (Ajibade and Shokemi 2003 ; Nyong et al. 2007 ) . In the context of climate change, which is likely to exacerbate the vulnerability of local communities throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa (Parry et al. 2007 ) , traditional knowledge and practices represent an important element of the adaptive capacity of rural communities (Simel 2008 ; Galloway-McLean 2010 ; Osman-Elasha et al. 2009 ) . For example, the monitoring of grazing pressure and the state of the pasture by herders of the Sahel enables them to make informed decisions about rotating or relocating herds (Niamir-Fuller 1998 ) , an important adaptation to their unpredictable, low-rainfall environment (Coughenour et al. 1985 ) . ...
Full-text available
This book is the product of World Forests, Society and Environment (WFSE), a Special Project of the International Union of Forest Research Organisation (IUFRO). WFSE is a global, open, non-profit network of scientists and experts steered by ten international research organisations and coordinated by the Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA). The network focuses on the forest, society, and environment interface. On the basis of existing scientific knowledge, it looks for innovative solutions to support and advance the formulation and implementation of forest-related policies that promote sustainable development and well-being. This book is the second volume published by WFSE in the IUFRO World Series. The first one, Forests in the Global Balance: Changing Paradigms, was launched five years ago (August 2005) in the XXII IUFRO World Congress in Brisbane, Australia. The present book, Forests and Society – Responding to Global Drivers of Change, will be launched in the XXIII IUFRO World Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea, August 2010.
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W.E.Easterling, P.K. Aggarwal, P. Batima, K.M. Brander, L. Erda, S.M. Howden, A. Kirilenko, J. Morton, J.-F. Soussana, J. Schmidhuber and F.N. Tubiello, 2007: Food, fibre and forest products. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden,C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 273-313.
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Over two billion people in developing countries use only traditional biomass wood, dung, and crop waste for their basic energy needs. The pollution from the burning of these fuels for cooking and heating is linked to the deaths of over 1.6 million people each year (more than three people a minute). Indoor air pollution is one of the leading causes of mortality and illness in developing countries. The main cause of deaths in children under five years old is acute lower respiratory infection, such as pneumonia; indoor air pollution is responsible for causing about 60% of these deaths. Despite these devastating facts about smoke, very few people are aware of the risks of indoor air pollution. It is quite literally the silent killer. Smoke - the Killer in the Kitchen details the health impacts of smoke in homes across the developing world. Technical solutions are presented, with strategies for reducing exposure to smoke for millions of households. Recommendations are given on immediate actions to be taken to significantly scale-up the fight against the silent killer of smoke in the homes of the world's most vulnerable people. This report is part of the ITDG Briefings series, designed to inform and stimulate public debate on crucial issues of sustainable development. The series looks at the role of technology and economics in the battle against poverty, inequality and injustice. In an increasingly fragile and divided world the need for well-informed public debate is vital and these reports summarize the issues and offer recommendations for action.
The historical geography of infectious diseases of humans shows a constantly changing pattern. In the late 20th century that pattern is being affected by strong population growth in the host population, by worldwide environmental changes associated with that growth, and by increased spatial mobility for both the disease-causing microorganisms and for the human host. The paper identifies some of the geographical factors that have shaped disease emergence in the past and those that appear to be playing a part today.
This paper compares transient carbon fluxes to and from forests during climatic change in a pure natural model of ecosystem adjustment and also in a model that captures the human response to these changes. Both models incorporate forest dieback and regeneration, forest redistribution, and changes in ecosystem production during climatic change. The natural model predicts that forested ecosystems in the United States will release 2.5 to 6.3 Pg carbon during the next 7 decades under climatic change. The model including human response shows that markets will mitigate, and even reverse, these fluxes by managing some forests for timber and storing carbon in wood products.</