Project title: Adaptation of Asia-Pacific Forestry to Climate Change Phase III Synopsis, updating and extension of forest adaptation tools [2020P4-UBC]
Executing agency: University of British Columbia
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant) :$164,100/$135,000
Project duration: 12/2021 to 11/2023
Target economy: China, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Myanmar
Objectives: To explore and realize the potential values of these tools developed in the previous projects, so that they can be better used in developing forest adaptive strategies in the Asia Pacific region to improve the health and productivity of forest ecosystems and their resilience to climate change.
Output 1: a manuscript to summarize and synthesize climate niche models and their projections for 15 key species and 4 forest ecosystems.
Output 2: 1) a functional and annually updated ClimateAP; 2) updated climate projections to include the newly released climate change scenarios in IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6); and 3) a manuscript to summarize and demonstrate the superiority of ClimateAP.
Output 3: 1) an ArcGIS-based web platform; 2) updated policy extension note; and 3) presentations at two international conferences.
Due to the diversity of the Asia-Pacific (AP) region’s forests and other ecosystems, there are numerous ecotones or boundaries between forests and other systems across the landscape. Climate change is expected to have drastic impacts at these community margins. However, not all the changes will be negative for forests. Forest migration to increased altitudes and latitudes means that total forest area in the Asia-Pacific region may actually increase. An increase in forest area will help reduce climate change caused by greenhouse gases (GHG) through carbon storage mechanisms. However, if the existing forests are lost to other non- forest ecosystems, total forest cover may decline because there will be less viable area to inhabit with increasing altitude on mountains and towards the poles. In general, any change in climatic variables (i.e. moisture, temperature, wind) will alter ecosystems or forests. The magnitude of the climatic change and its variability will largely dictate the changes in forests or ecosystems. Although global climate model outputs are often referred to as “predictions”, each output really represents one possible outcome, or ‘scenario’ of the future.
One of the most difficult things to predict is human behavior, and therefore most climate change modelling exercises include different runs based on various emission scenarios. Whether global GHG levels, represented as “carbon dioxide equivalents”, increase or decrease over the next century, and the magnitude of that increase or decrease, depends on a multitude of political, social, and economic factors that are not easily predicted. In essence it depends on human behavior and both political and personal will to change. The magnitude, extent and nature of atmospheric emissions, agriculture, energy, transport, human population growth and land-use or land-cover change will all affect the impact climate change has on forests of the AP region, as much as forest resilience does.
To predict the climate change and numerous potential impacts that climate change may have on forests in the AP region, APFNet has supported the third phase of project "Adaptation of Asia-Pacific Forestry to Climate Change –Phase III Synopsis, updating and extension of forest adaptation tools" in December 2021. Executed by the University of British Columbia (UBC), the project will last a total of two years, from December 2021 to November 2023. The third phase further updates and improves the forest adaptation tools developed in phase I and phase II of this project and introduces them to a wider user base by proving their superiority compared to other climate tools. In this way, the forest adaptation tools can be better used in developing forest adaptive strategies in the AP region to improve the health and productivity of forest ecosystems and their resilience to climate change. The previous two phases, started in 2011, were also executed by the University of British Columbia with 7 economies and regions targeted, including China, Chinese Taipei, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and Myanmar. During this eight-year endeavor, important forest adaptation tools have been developed, including a scale-free climate model called ClimateAP, climate niche models for 15 tree species and 4 forest ecosystems, FORECAST models, and a web platform (climateap.net) to facilitate easy access to climate data and spatial visualization of climate data and species distributions.
In the first phase, implemented between 2011 and 2014, a scientific and a policy review regarding the basic science of climate change were developed, and information on various policy measures in the AP region has been implemented to either adapt to, or mitigate, climate change from a forestry perspective accumulated. ClimateAP, which is a high-resolution climate model, generates scale-free climate data for a large number of climate variables for historical and future periods. Additionally, climate niche models for five major forest tree species in the region including Cunninghamia lanceolata (Chinese fir), Pinus Sinensis (Chinese pine) , Pinus massoniana (Masson pine), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) and Eucalyptus globulus (Blue gum), and their consensus projections were generated for future periods to provide scientific basis for assessing the impact of climate change, identifying the most vulnerable species and populations, and formulating adaptive management strategies. Besides, a process-based model called FORECAST climate model was also developed to identify key indicators of ecosystem services and the development of decision-support tools for evaluating alternative management strategies. To facilitate data access and spatial visualization of climate data and climate niche projections, a Google Map-based web tool (climateap.net) was developed to promote information flow and knowledge transfer from scientists to policy makers and stakeholders.
During the second phase of the project from 2016 to 2018, Climate AP model was updated and expanded to allow for annual time series projections to be generated for any location in the region in a single run. With this development, Climate AP can generate high-resolution climate data for historical years (1901-2017) and future years (2011-2100) in addition to the three future periods (2011-2040, 2041-2070 and 2071-2100) already included in the model. To facilitate policy discussions through scientifically credible evaluation of existing data and information, the second phase project conducted evaluations of adaptive forest ecosystem management strategies through model integration, development of indicators and trade-off analysis. It aimed to help policy makers and practitioners understand the complex systems that they are dealing with, as well as provided opportunities for addressing policy and data gaps to formulate alternative adaptive forest management strategies. In phase II, results of the integration of process-based FORECAST/FORECAST Climate and niche-based models, as well as input from local partners were used to conduct trade-off analyses at representative pilot areas in Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Malaysia). With this framework, Tenctona grandis (Teak) plantation productivity was predicted under various future climatic scenario and management alternatives (with or without bamboo competition, water balance and nutrient) using climatic data derived from ClimateAP, field data collection and local inputs.
Web platform for data access and visualization of one of the target economies--Malaysia. Photo: climateap.net
In this third phase, the project will focus on (1) summarizing climate niche models and their projections for 15 key species and 4 forest ecosystems to develop a framework where multiple species can be managed simultaneously; (2) updating ClimateAP to provide timely and superior climate data; and (3) disseminating project outputs of all phases to a wider audience. The new phase of the project will conduct additional analysis on the projections to include soil effects to integrate individual species into a framework showing species availability for any planting site for the current and future climates in connection with the forest ecosystem projections. To maintain and improve the functions of ClimateAP, newly available monthly climate data in each year will be updated. The project will particularly incorporate recently released new climate projections of the Couple Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), which were included in the IPCC AR6 to keep the model updated with new annual and future climate data, and ClimateAP will be compared with the commonly used model WorldClim to demonstrate its superiority. The users of ClimateAP tool include the all four economies and beyond (all economies in Asia Pacific). The new phase of this project aims to substantially increase the number of the users (subscribers) as the majority of climate change related scientific publications still use WorldClim. Climate niche models have a great potential to guide the development of adaptive forest strategies to climate change. Phase III will furtherly refine and synthesize these tools to develop a framework for managing multiple species collectively. In order to disseminate model predictions and their applications in forest management for climate change adaptation the project will convert the Google Map-based application to an ArcGIS-based web platform for better interaction and global accessibility, particularly for users in China. Four policy briefs of four economies including China, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia and Myanmar will also be developed and the forest adaptation tools will be presented at international conferences. Overall the third phase of the project will push the tools developed beyond the borders of its previous use and thus reach and involve a larger audience.
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