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CIFOR Study Warns Mitigation Without Adaptation Can Heighten Climate Vulnerability

afdb-cifor27 August 2013: Researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Wageningen University, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) conducted a study that finds that efforts to mitigate carbon emissions through forest conservation can increase the vulnerability of forest-dependent communities to climate and non-climate stresses.

However, the study, which was published in the International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, notes that well-implemented carbon mitigation activities also have the potential to increase the adaptive capacity and reduce the vulnerability of local communities.

The research, based on case studies of two community forest conservation projects in southern Cameroon, underscores previous studies on the need to link project-level mitigation and adaptation strategies and activities in the forest sector. Interviews with community members, for example, revealed that payment for ecosystem services (PES) projects banning slash-and-burn practices resulted in decreased field size and crop production, as older farmers decided to leave land out of production rather than engage in more intensive land-clearing practices.

The study, titled 'Local Vulnerability, Forest Communities and Forest Carbon Conservation,' also identifies opportunities to reduce community vulnerability, including through diversifying livelihoods, enhancing the viability of local economic activities, and building capacity and knowledge about local agricultural systems and alternative livelihood options for food security and income. The authors further note that, in addition to securing land tenure, these incentives are likely to make conservation activities more attractive to participating communities, while reducing their vulnerability to climate change.

CIFOR is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). [CIFOR Press Release] [Publication: Local Vulnerability, Forest Communities and Forest Carbon Conservation]