Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Book Section
Title Vulnerability of Pacific Island agriculture and forestry to climate change
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Publisher Secretariat of the Pacific Community
URL http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=XF2017001197
Abstract
The agriculture and forestry sectors are of vital socio-economic importance to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs). These sectors underpin the livelihoods of a significant proportion of the region’s population and also account for an important share of export earnings for many countries. It is essential therefore to assess the potential impacts of climate change on the agriculture and forestry sectors, what this may mean for livelihoods across the region, and what can be done to minimise emerging adverse impacts.

PICTs already face a range of challenges in terms of maintaining adequate food security and sustaining commodity export income. Continued population growth, urbanisation, low or stagnant agricultural production and yields, environmental degradation and price competition from imported food products are all risks to food security. The region also faces intense competition in international markets for the exports it produces, and income from most of these products has been relatively flat or falling for some time. Increasing the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of agricultural production, and ensuring ongoing food and livelihood security in the coming decades, remains an important challenge for the region irrespective of climate change, and this must be kept in mind when assessing future impacts and response capabilities. Chapter 1 sets the scene for this book by providing an overall assessment of the importance of agriculture across the different PICTs and discusses some of the key challenges currently faced by the sector.

Climate change is likely to present an additional set of challenges for the agriculture and forestry sectors, particularly in terms of managing the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The region has always been highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability and extreme weather, such as floods, intense rain, droughts and cyclones and these have been the cause of significant production losses to the agriculture and forestry sectors in the past. While farmers, foresters and tree growers have developed agricultural and forestry systems that help minimise climate related risks, the magnitude of potential changes to key climatic variables projected for this century is likely to present a more formidable adaptation challenge.

Recent international research on the potential impacts of climate change on agricultural production suggests that warming of even 1.5–2 C0 will adversely impact on global food production, especially for the world’s major staple food crops such as wheat, maize and rice. It is a widely held view that agricultural commodity and food production in the Pacific will face similar impacts. However, in producing this publication it was evident that the body of research that specifically targets the impacts of climate change on Pacific agriculture is generally sparse and piecemeal. Only limited applied climate change impact research on agriculture has been undertaken in the region and, as a result, many gaps in the knowledge base relevant to the food production systems across the Pacific remain. Of those assessments that do exist, many have often been based on extrapolations from international research undertaken elsewhere. If farmers, scientists and policy makers are to make informed decisions on whether or not response options are needed, and when they may be needed, it is essential that our understanding of the Pacific context be improved.

This book aims to improve our understanding of climate change impacts on Pacific crops, livestock and forest production systems. Where information gaps exist the authors have drawn on expert opinion across the region and international research institutions. This has provided valuable insights into the vulnerability of particular agriculture and forestry production systems under projected changes to the region’s climate. This book identifies and highlights these gaps and may guide the type of future research and assessment that needs to be undertaken in the coming years.

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