Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies in temperate forests in Central Mexico: a participatory approach

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Worldwide temperate forests are vulnerable to climate change because climate anomalies may impact tree mortality and forest productivity, as well as the economic and social dynamics of the people that depend on forest services. Evaluation of their vulnerability is a key element for the impact scenarios under climate change and for the design of adaptation strategies. The objective of this study is to analyze the case of forests in central Mexico and the importance of land degradation as a factor that increases vulnerability to warmer than normal temperatures that may result in forest fires. By means of data analyses and participative workshops, current vulnerability factors of temperate forests ecosystem to a warmer climate have been identified and found to be related to local traditional practices, like slash and burn, illegal extraction, deforestation and land use change that have led to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, various stakeholders now admit that some of their practices on the use of forest resources lead to vulnerability to climate anomalies. If current trends in vulnerability continue, and climate change makes drier conditions more frequent, forest extension in the Central Mexico could be severely reduced mainly by wildfires, pests and loss of ecological services. In a number of workshops, stakeholders’ from the forests of Tlaxcala suggested three adaptation measures: i) forest conservation, ii) forest restoration and iii) sustainable forest management. Particular adaptation strategies are considered more appropriate for some communities that expect long term benefits (augmenting water resources, soil erosion mitigation and flood control). Therefore, it is concluded that perception and ancestral knowledge of stakeholders need to be incorporated in the vulnerability analysis in order to have them involved in the adaptation process and to empower them in the implementation of the adaptation strategies.

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Thanks to all members of the Forest Council of Tlaxcala during the 2005-2006 workshops. We also are indebted to Dr Vidal Guerra, of the Instituto Nacional Forestal Agropecuario, to the Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, to the Fondo del Banco Mundial, for the support to this study. A Grant from UNAM (DGAPA-Profip), From GEF and PNUD financed the field research activities. Carolina Neri, Matias Méndez, David Zermeño, Laura Merit González Ramírez, Elizabeth Martínez Nieto and Ricardo López Martínez, Gustavo Vázquez, Santos Martínez and Clemente López generously helped during the field work activities and the climate change scenarios development.

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Correspondence to Leopoldo Galicia.

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Galicia, L., Gómez-Mendoza, L. & Magaña, V. Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies in temperate forests in Central Mexico: a participatory approach. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 20, 21–42 (2015).

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  • Adaptation strategies
  • Climate change, scenarios
  • México
  • Highland temperate forest, vulnerability