Climate Smart Land Network
What is Climate Smart?

What is Climate Smart?

The climate smart approach for working lands has its roots in agriculture, with its introduction in 2009 by the FAO [1]. Climate smart agriculture (CSA) recognizes that agriculture emits greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change, is often highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and must increase production to meet the growing global demands for food and fiber.

A climate smart framework is a three-pillar approach: 1) climate change mitigation through the reduction of GHG emissions compared to business as usual, 2) climate change adaptation by increasing the resiliency of production systems to anticipated environmental changes, and 3) sustainable intensification to produce and deliver more ecosystem benefits. Applying this framework results in trade-offs between the three pillars (i.e., increases in productivity and food security while adapting to and mitigating climate change) and synergistic outcomes via new policies, institutions, and financial investments. This same framework can be applied to the management of forests.

Climate smart forestry (CSF) evolved from CSA in Europe at the time of the Paris Climate Agreement[2]. The CSF three-pillar approach is similar except for an expansive definition of the production pillar that broadly encompasses the delivery of ecosystem services and goods associated with production ecosystems[3]. Like a CSA, a fully integrated CSF framework balances the production demands of the working forests with climate change adaptation and mitigation, creating a three-way synergy that ensures the long-term sustainability of the forest ecosystems and the forestry sector. The broadly defined delivery of ecosystem services and goods is essential because forests provide a suite of ecosystem benefits in addition to wood fiber (e.g., water quality and quantity, biodiversity, cultural, and recreation). Society values these benefits; thus, a fully implemented CSF approach ensures the delivery of multiple ecosystem benefits while integrating climate adaptation and mitigation.

[1]  FAO 2009 Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries: Options for Capturing Synergies FAO Rome.

[2] Nabuurs GJ, Delacote P, Ellison D, Hanewinkel M, Lindner M, Nesbit M, Ollikainen M, Savaresi A (2015) A new role for forests and the forest sector in the EU post-2020 climate targets. From Science to Policy 2. European Forest Institute

[3] Bowditch, E. et al. (2020) What is Climate-Smart Forestry? A definition from a multinational collaborative process focused on mountain regions of Europe. Ecosystem Services, 43(April), 101113.