CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION STRATEGIES IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR OF KERALA, INDIA
Climate change is generally recognized as one of the greatest challenges of this century. In the present paper, the climate change impact factors such as precipitation and atmospheric temperature are discussed in the context of Kerala State. The high resolution daily gridded dataset for a period of 100 years (1901-2000) provided by the Climate Research Unit Time Series (CRU TS- version 2.10) was used to analyse the long-term trend of rainfall and temperature in Kerala. The mean annual rainfall and seasonal rainfall over the State showed an insignificant declining trend. The number of wet days during the south-west monsoon increased significantly and decreased during pre-monsoon and winter seasons. However, throughout the State daily average, maximum and minimum temperatures increased irrespective of the season. Among different landuse systems, forests are particularly sensitive to climate change. The forest cover in the State seems to be stabilised to around 17,382 km2. However, in the context of increasing anthropogenic activities, without adopting suitable strategies, forests cannot contribute to mitigate the ill effects of climate change. Several of the forest conservation measures already taken up by the Kerala Government also represent unintentional climate change mitigation measures. By strengthening or continuing with intentional programmes like social forestry projects and protection and conservation of forests, including sacred groves, adverse effects of climate change can be mitigated. With the long experience in promotion of forest conservation, participatory forest management and forest governance, the Kerala Forest Department can greatly facilitate comprehensive programmes for climate change mitigation.
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