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ReForMit: Understanding and securing the resilience of forest-based climate change mitigation

This project aims to generate knowledge on safeguarding the biophysical and social-ecological resilience of forest-based climate change mitigation measures under shifting hydro-climatic conditions including ecological droughts. Regarding major knowledge gaps in assessing the future resilience of forest-based interventions - i.e. their capacity to remain functional in delivering desirable water-climate-biodiversity functions despite natural and anthropogenic perturbations, the proposed project will help enhance both the biophysical and social-ecological resilience of water-climate-biodiversity functions from forest-based mitigation measures.

a moss-covered forest
Photo: Siggy Nowak, Pixabay

Objectives and vision

ReForMit is driven by climate mitigation in forest systems which is critical for limiting global warming and has important implications for biosphere functions such as freshwater and biodiversity. This project will (1) design forest-based mitigation scenarios in close collaboration with stakeholders, (2) quantify the resilience and sustainability of the biosphere integrity of forest-based climate mitigation measures, (3) analyze the local and remote effects of hydro-climatic adaptation, and (4) holistically assess the social-ecological resilience of forest-based climate change mitigation measures. Both modeling and empirical analyses will be applied to comprehensively account for water-climate-forest dynamics, including the coupling of a state-of-the-art dynamic vegetation model with an Earth system model and an atmospheric moisture-tracking tool.

Consortium and collaborative expertise

An interdisciplinary team from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Sweden, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) in Sweden is brought together by the collaboration. To ensure a complete approach to social-ecological resilience, our partnership advantages varied skills in Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), vegetation modeling with an Earth system, stakeholder participation, and mitigation strategies against climate change. For the duration of the project, Dr. Lan Wang-Erlandsson from SRC is the main PI of the project; Dr. Zahra Kalantari is the PI from KTH. Most partners have also contributed to the joint report “The Essential Drop to Reach Net-Zero: Unpacking Freshwater's Role in Climate Change Mitigation“ by SRC, SIWI, GIZ, UNDP, and PIK.

Methodology and innovative approaches

The project is organized into five work packages (WPs). WP1 co-develops forest-based mitigation scenarios with stakeholders iteratively and runs these scenarios using a combination of vegetation and Earth system models; WP2 analyzes the interactions of these scenarios with biosphere integrity; WP3 analyzes the role of hydro-climatic adaptation based on remote sensing data; WP4 applies social-ecological resilience principles to case studies and integrates findings with decision making, and WP5 is concerned with communication, dissemination, coordination, and synthesis. KTH leads WP4 with support and contributions from all other project collaborators. WP4 develops and applies a framework for assessing the social-ecological resilience of forests that addresses all seven resilience principles and considers the status of forests in terms of resilience in a spatiotemporal manner. The approach will be based on a holistic vision of all crucial social, political, hydrological, environmental, and economic facets affecting resilience. At the end, an appropriate hierarchical Multi-Criteria Decision-Making method will be applied to prioritize forest-based climate change mitigation scenarios and potential management options to enhance forest resilience and yield the best resilience outcomes by combining Stakeholder- and Social Network- Analysis (for identifying, assessing and structuring different needs, interests and concerns related to different stakeholders, their interactions and pivotal criteria) (WP5).

Figure 1: Overview of work packages (WP1-5)

Impact and significance

This project aims to holistically integrate the existing biosphere integrity indicators. Fully coupled state-of-the-art modeling of biosphere integrity and atmospheric feedback accounting for Eco-hydrological as well as atmospheric feedback. This represents a major advance as, typically, Earth system models do not account for eco-hydrological dynamics satisfactorily, whereas dynamic vegetation models alone do not account for land-climate feedback. In addition, it takes into consideration empirically grounded analyses of the adaptive capacity of forest measures and implications for remote regions and application and empirical validation of social-ecological resilience principles for the assessment of forest measures.

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