Climate Change and Forest Ecosystems in the Philippines: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Mitigation
Rodel D. Lasco, Florencia B. Pulhin, Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Grace B. Villamor and Karl Abelard L. Villegas
Climate change and Philippine forests are directly linked to each other. Changes in climate are affecting the forests and its ability to deliver its environmental services. In the same manner, degradation of the forest resources results to emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere which contributes to climate change. To enhance the mitigation role of the forests and at the same time increase their resilience to climate change, policies and programs must be put in place. Such policies and programs must however be science-based. This paper reviewed one decade of research on climate change and forest ecosystems in the Philippines. Limited research suggests that dry forest types are the most vulnerable to climate change. Potential adaptation strategies do exist but have not yet been adequately studied. Most of the past research has focused on the mitigation potential of terrestrial ecosystems. Significant amount of carbon is conserved in natural forests (up to 250 MgC/ha). These stored carbon can be emitted to the atmosphere as CO2 gas through deforestation. Planted trees have a high rate of carbon sequestration (mean of 4.3 MgC/ ha/yr) and could help mitigate greenhouse gas concentration. Lessons that are relevant to forest management in the country are extracted. Future research needs are suggested. Key words: tropical forests , climate change impacts, vulnerability, adaptation, mitigation INTRODUCTION
Climate change is becoming a present reality.
The most recent Inter-governmental Panel for
Climate Change (IPCC) report concludes that
warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as
is now evident from observations of increases in
global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level (IPCC WG I, 2007).
In the Philippines, climate change is also
occurring as evidenced by the increasing mean
temperature observed over time. For instance,
from 1951 to 2006, records of the national
weather bureau (PAGASA) show that warming has
occurred in the country (Hilario 2008). Rising
sea levels, one of the indicators that climate
change is occurring, have also been observed to
happen from five major stations (Manila,
Legazpi, Cebu, Davao and Jolo). Annual mean
sea level is observed to increase in Manila since
1960s while for the rest of the stations, sea level
rise occurred in 1970s. In the Manila, Legazpi
and Davao stations, an increase of almost 15 cm
was observed from 1980-1989.
Among the ecosystems that will be greatly
affected by climate change are the forests.
Projected adverse impacts of climate change on
forests include increased occurrence of forest
fires, which will put the forests at risk and
increased occurrence of pests and diseases and
loss of thousands of species (IPCC, 2007). With
the reduction of the forest area, ecosystem services
such as biodiversity, water, carbon, climate
regulation, soil and water protection or purification,
recreational, cultural and spiritual benefits provided
by the forests will also decrease. For instance,
Fischlin et al. (2007) mentioned that globally,
about 20% to 30% of species (global uncertainty
range from 10% to 40%, but varying among
regional biota from as low as 1% to as high as
80%) will be at increasingly high risk of extinction,
possibly by 2100, as global mean temperatures
exceed 2 to 3°C above pre-industrial levels.
Since forest ecosystems have important Climate Change and Forest Ecosystems in the Philippines: 2 Vulnerability, Adaptation and Mitigation
of these areas are protected merely on paper due...