Forest Resilience, Biodiversity, and Climate Change
This paper reviews the concepts of ecosystem resilience, resistance, and stability in forests and their relationship to biodiversity, with particular reference to climate change. The report is a direct response to a request by the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, in decision IX/51, to explore the links between biodiversity, forest ecosystem resilience, and climate change. Forests are emphasized because they are major reservoirs of terrestrial biodiversity and contain about 50% of the global terrestrial biomass carbon stocks (IPCC 2007, FAO 2000). Emissions from deforestation and degradation remain a significant (ca. 18-20%) source of annual greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere (IPCC 2007), and therefore the conservation, appropriate management and restoration of forests will make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. Further, forests have a certain natural capacity to adapt to climate change because of their biodiversity. Some animals have important roles in ecosystem processes and organization, such as pollination, seed dispersal, and herbivory, and the loss of these species has clear negative consequences for ecosystem resilience (e.g., Elmqvist et al. 2003). Here, however, we limit our discussion to botanical aspects of forests, with the exception of some discussion of insect pests and diseases as these influence forest resilience and stability.