CBD COP11: Trees crucial to climate adaptation & mitigation

Rio Conventions Pavilion TV, CBD COP11 (11/10/2012) – Dr Eike Luedeling, Climate Change Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre, explains how trees can best play a role in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Luedeling asserts that trees can assist in adaption to climate change by providing a temperate microclimate. He notes that every species seeks out the shade of trees on a hot day and this effect will be even more important for both animals and crops as the impact of climate change increases.

Luedeling explains what he calls the ‘portfolio effect’, whereby farmers can become economically resilient to the effects of climate change by planting trees. By widening the range of products that they produce to include timber and fruit, Luedeling argues that farmers can earn an additional income that is likely to remain constant even when other crops fail.

Luedeling is careful to emphasise that we must be intelligent in our use of trees for sequestering carbon. If we base calculations on a tree surviving 25 years and, due to being placed in the wrong environment, it dies after 10, any attempt to offset emissions has failed.

Luedeling is also cautious to recognise that we have a limited understanding of trees’ responses to climate variability. He maintains that this needs to change if we are to rely on trees to sequester carbon and to continue to provide valuable ecosystem services.