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Extreme Weather Events Threaten Forests, According to FAO Report

9 August 2011: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) released a report titled "Abiotic Disturbances and their Influence on Forest Health," which highlights the increasing threat posed to the world's forests by extreme weather events.

The report reviews the current knowledge on the impacts of meteorological, climatological, hydrological, geophysical and anthropogenic disturbances. In addition to noting the high human and financial costs that resulted from the almost 4,000 abiotic disturbance events that occurred between 2000 and 2009, the report lists several large-scale impacts on forests and forest sectors around the world. It also states that forest conditions can influence the impact of disturbances as well, as when degradation of mangroves increases the damage caused by storm surges or tsunamis.

The report recommends the use of adaptive forest management to protect forest resources against increasing abiotic disturbances, and calls for the use of strategies such as species diversification, windbreaks and mixed cropping patterns to enhance ecosystem resilience, as well as selective planting.

Alongside the launch of FAO's report, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) called for regional and international cooperation in dealing with such disturbances. Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO's Assistant Director-General for Forestry and CPF Chair, also highlighted the possibility that climate change would heighten the intensity of extreme events. [Publication: Abiotic Disturbances and Their Influence on Forest Health] [CPF Press Release]