Conclusions and Recommendations

The adaptation of agriculture and forestry to the climate of the twenty-first century requires that major research efforts will be made. The complexity of the problem necessitates cooperation between research scientists in various disciplines: meteorologists, agronomists, pedologists, hydrologists, modellers. This cooperation, which has to be international, must produce immediately useable results to respond to the questions of the developing countries. Indeed, though all regions of the world are different because of their climates, their soils, their water resources, the methods of using and managing the land, they are also different because of their vulnerability to climatic change. In this respect, an increased sensitivity appears in the less developed countries in the tropics. It is therefore becoming important that we rapidly identify the gaps in our knowledge and initiate research aimed at increasing the adaptability of agriculture in the face of climate change. This research will aim both to increase our forecasting capacity and to anticipate the design of new cropping and forestry systems. It is also essential to deepen our expertise to orient and evaluate international negotiations in a critical manner, both in terms of quantifying stocks and forecasting impact. We must come up with calculations of sequestration potential of the various sources of carbon (soil, biomass), forest ecosystems and their behaviour in response to various management options and climate change.

The interactions between climate change, on the one hand, and agriculture and forestry, on the other, are numerous. Whatever technical progress is implemented, agricultural and forestry activities remain primarily dependent on fluctuations in the climate; they contribute, for their part, to the modification of the gaseous balance of the biosphere, whether directly or indirectly, through, for example, the emission of greenhouse gases through damage to the soil or deforestation.

In the first issue, it is appropriate to achieve a better understanding of the variability of the current climate and its impact on agriculture. This involves the study of extended series of homogenised meteorological data, and the analysis of ecosystems and their evolution. The most advanced models, which allow to simulate the climate of the future, are based on general circulation models. Even though considerable progress has been made in this field in the course of the last decade, it is essential today to specify the behaviour of the hydrological cycle, taking account of alterations by the continental land masses and the interactions of ocean and atmosphere. Climatic change may generate several types of impact on agriculture, on production, the consumption of irrigation water, fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides, on the environment and on rural areas generally. This impact is of varied complexity, and the systematic recourse to crop simulation models (which integrate the effects of pests and weeds) appears to be the only way possible, on condition that major efforts are devoted to validating them. These models must also evolve in order to produce environmental output, enabling the simultaneous simulation of the effect of production on the environment associated with production forecasts, taking account of both the GHG levels and the impact on surface radiative and energetic balances.

The use of spatial sensors must become more systematic, both for long-term monitoring and through their capacity for measuring and mapping certain variables (global radiation, photosynthetically active radiation, surface temperature, soil moisture). The contribution of satellite remote sensing information appears to be an essential complement to the development of crop models and the research underway.

It is also essential to make progress in spatialisation and aggregation techniques to quantify the propagation of errors arising from the uncertainties linked to the coupling of information and to minimise them.

Finally, the prognosis for storage of carbon in ecosystems in a changing climate also constitutes a scientific challenge in understanding of the cycle of this element as relating to the behaviour of the ecosystems concerned.


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(Received 15 December 2003; in revised form 22 July 2004)


1National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 109-695, Newmarket,

Auckland, New Zealand E-mail: [email protected] 2World Meterological Organization, 7bis Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland 3 United States Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave, SW Room 5143, Washington DC 20250, U.S.A.

Abstract. The International Workshop on Reducing Vulnerability of Agriculture and Forestry to Climate Variability and Climate Change held in Ljubljana, Solvenia, from 7 to 9 October 2002 addressed a range of important issues relating to climate variability, climate change, agriculture, and forestry including the state of agriculture and forestry and agrometeological information, and potential adaptation strategies for agriculture and forestry to changing climate conditions and other pressures. There is evidence that global warming over the last millennium has already resulted in increased global average annual temperature and changes in rainfall, with the 1990s being likely the warmest decade in the Northern Hemisphere at least. During the past century, changes in temperature patterns have, for example, had a direct impact on the number of frost days and the length of growing seasons with significant implications for agriculture and forestry. Land cover changes, changes in global ocean circulation and sea surface temperature patterns, and changes in the composition of the global atmosphere are leading to changes in rainfall. These changes may be more pronounced in the tropics. For example, crop varieties grown in the Sahel may not be able to withstand the projected warming trends and will certainly be at risk due to projected lower amounts of rainfall as well. Seasonal to interannual climate forecasts will definitely improve in the future with a better understanding of dynamic relationships. However, the main issue at present is how to make better use of the existing information and dispersion of knowledge to the farm level. Direct participation by the farming communities in pilot projects on agrometeorological services will be essential to determine the actual value of forecasts and to better identify the specific user needs. Old (visits, extension radio) and new (internet) communication techniques, when adapted to local applications, may assist in the dissemination of useful information to the farmers and decision makers. Some farming systems with an inherent resilience may adapt more readily to climate pressures, making long-term adjustments to varying and changing conditions. Other systems will need interventions for adaptation that should be more strongly supported by agrometeorological services for agricultural producers. This applies, among others, to systems where pests and diseases play an important role. Scientists have to guide policy makers in fostering an environment in which adaptation strategies can be effected. There is a clear need for integrating preparedness for climate variability and climate change. In developed countries, a trend of higher yields, but with greater annual fluctuations and changes in cropping patterns and crop calendars can be expected with changing climate scenarios. Shifts in projected cropping patterns can be disruptive to rural societies in general. However, developed countries have the technology to adapt more readily to the projected climate changes. In many developing countries, the present conditions of agriculture and forestry are already marginal, due to degradation of natural resources, the use of inappropriate technologies and other stresses. For these reasons, the ability to adapt will be more difficult in the tropics and subtropics and in countries in transition. Food security will remain a problem in many developing countries. Nevertheless, there are many examples of traditional knowledge, indigenous technologies and local innovations that can be used effectively as a foundation for improved farming systems. Before developing adaptation strategies, it is essential to learn from the actual difficulties faced by farmers to cope with risk management at the farm level. Agrometeorologists must play an important role in assisting farmers with the development of feasible strategies to adapt to climate variability and climate change. Agrometeorologists should also advise national policy makers on the urgent need to cope with the vulnerabilities of agriculture and forestry to climate variability and climate change. The workshop recommendations were largely limited to adaptation. Adaptation to the adverse effects of climate variability and climate change is of high priority for nearly all countries, but developing countries are particularly vulnerable. Effective measures to cope with vulnerability and adaptation need to be developed at all levels. Capacity building must be integrated into adaptation measures for sustainable agricultural development strategies. Consequently, nations must develop strategies that effectively focus on specific regional issues to promote sustainable development.

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