Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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5.6.4. Adaptation Options and Vulnerability of Goods and Services Adaptation in Timber and Non-Wood Goods and Services

In markets, prices mediate adaptation through land and product management. At the regional and global scales, the extent and nature of adaptation will depend primarily on prices, the relative value of substitutes, the cost of management, and technology (Joyce et al., 1995; Binkley et al., 1997; Perez-Garcia et al., 1997; Skog and Nicholson, 1998; Sohngen and Mendelsohn, 1998). On specific sites, changes in forest growth and productivity will constrain, and could limit, choices of adaptation strategies (Lindner, 1999, 2000).

Forest management has a history of long-term decisions under uncertain future market and biological conditions (e.g., prices, pest infestations, or forest fires). Most adaptation in land management will occur in managed forests; it will include salvaging dead and dying timber, replanting new species that are better suited to the new climate, planting genetically modified species, intensifying or decreasing management, and other responses (e.g., Binkley, 1988; Joyce et al., 1995; Perez-Garcia et al., 1997; Sohngen and Mendelsohn, 1998; Lindner, 1999). Climate change is not likely to cause humans to convert highly productive agricultural land to forests (McCarl et al., 2000), even with afforestation incentives (e.g., the Kyoto Protocol) (Alig et al., 1997). Adaptation estimates are sensitive to assumed rates of salvage and choices made in regenerating species during climate change (Sohngen and Mendelsohn, 1998; Lindner, 1999). In product management, adaptation includes substituting species in the production process for solid wood and pulpwood products, shifting harvests from one region to another, and developing new technologies and products, such as wood products manufactured with adhesives (McCarl et al., 2000; Irland et al., 2001). In some cases, producers may need to adapt to changes in wood quality (Gindl et al., 2000).

In addition to adaptation through traditional management, agroforestry, small woodlot management, and windrows (or shelterbelts) could provide numerous adaptation options for maintaining tree cover and fuelwood supplies in developing countries. Afforestation in agroforestry projects designed to mitigate climate change may provide important initial steps towards adaptation (Sampson et al., 2000). Although agroforestry is not expected to play a large role in global industrial timber supplies, it may have important regional implications.

Recreation users can adapt by substituting recreational sites as forests respond to climate change, but this will have impacts on recreational industries. Substitution will be easier in regions where transportation networks are well established. Adaptation will be more difficult in regions where recreation depends on particular forest structures (e.g., old-growth forests) that are negatively affected by climate change and for which there are no close substitutes (Wall, 1998).

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