The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change as “. . . any change in climate due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.” The extent to which humans are influencing climate change is difficult to quantify but evidence is mounting that land cover change (e.g. habitat destruction), urbanization, and the burning of fossil fuels are leading to increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the largest contributors being carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. In concert, these activities change climate-related parameters such as temperature, precipitation, soil moisture and sea level. Many uncertainties remain that limit our ability to predict and detect future climate change, however, most experts contend the current warming trend is expected to continue. This trend is characterized by high variation and extreme weather patterns.
There are two different strategies to confront climate change. One is to limit future warming (mitigation of climate change) or we find ways to live in our changing world (adaptation to climate change). Realistically, it is unlikely that climate change can be addressed solely through mitigation efforts. More credible will be a combined or integrated approach using both adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the impacts of climate change. Because land cover conversion is one important driver of climate change, the forest sector in NL is committed to sustainable practices that can assist in both approaches. For example, planting trees that absorb CO2 from the air is one such strategy. Similar steps to mitigate include the development and application of clean technology across the full forest value chain (from harvesting to transportation to product development). Moreover, ecologically sound practices that conserve peatlands, protect genetic diversity, and limit the size of clear cuts also help maintain ecosystem function, all of which provide resilience to natural systems. One priority issue for the forest sector is the need to improve energy efficiency including the use of biomass derived from waste materials. As such, more efficient buildings and vehicles for operations and transportation, respectively, remain a priority across the sector. The NLFIA also calls for increased investment in the sector that will allow for an enhanced inventory, as well as more intensive silviculture, and protection against insect outbreaks and fire. In a warming climate, such measures can improve management regimes, including efforts to reduce the risks of fuel buildup and subsequent fire. The NLFIA is committed to highlighting the role of forests in combating climate change and urge scientists, teachers, and citizens to become more engaged in efforts to combat the climate crisis.