Air pollution and climate change are tightly linked. Many air pollutants contribute to the Earth’s radiative forcing, e.g., tropospheric ozone. The impacts of air pollution and climate change on forest ecosystems have been demonstrated by numerous studies over the last decades. The two factors interact in two ways: i) climate change can modify the effects of forest ecosystems exposure to air pollution, and vice-versa; and ii) air pollution can affect the sensitivity of forest ecosystems to specific impacts of climate change, and vice-versa.
Air quality policies around the world have not been successful in equally mitigating all air pollutants. For instance, despite the control of precursors emissions in some areas of the world, tropospheric ozone is worsened and is the most damaging air pollutant for forest ecosystems. Knowledge on ozone impacts on tropical and subtropical ecosystems is still limited.
Air pollution and climate change remain a persistent threat to forest ecosystems, urging for international cooperation and unified research efforts. The 31st biennial conference of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations - Research Group 8.04 on "Air pollution and climate change" is organized back-to-back the international conference "Role and Fate of Forest Ecosystems in a Changing World" to address complex effects of air pollution and climate change on forest ecosystems.
Asia has achieved one of the highest economic growth rates in the second half of the 20th century, leading to many environmental problems, such as air pollution and climate changes, and resulting in substantial changes in the structure and function of forest ecosystems.
Southeast Asia, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change and air pollution, is a key region for addressing issues related to forest ecosystems due to the high deforestation rate mainly due to agricultural expansion for industrial and food crops (0.41% per year between 2000 and 2010), also threatening biodiversity which is expected to decline between 13% and 85% by 2100, and a large number of forest-dependent communities. However, to date, the impact of climate change and air pollution on natural habitats for the whole region of Southeast Asia has not been quantified. A main focus will be on air pollution in Southeast Asia, in particular the impacts of tropospheric ozone and nitrogen deposition, and on climate change impacts (e.g., heat and drought) on growth and carbon sequestration of forests.
For the first time, the conference "Role and Fate of Forest Ecosystems in a Changing World" will be held in Southeast Asia (Thailand). We have the ambition to allow forest experts as well as experimentalists, monitoring experts, and modelers from all over the world to dialogue and share their updated knowledge for the protection of forest ecosystems from air pollution in a changing climate.
The main objectives are:
- To share the current state of knowledge on scientific gaps, especially in South Asia, in the understanding of multi-interactions of climate change, air pollution and forest ecosystems.
- To examine the extent to which forests contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- To promote the identification and prediction of threats of air pollution and climate change to biodiversity and various ecological processes and forest services.
- To discuss the most up-to-date actions for improving the sustainability of forests under the impacts of air pollution and climate change.
- To examine current knowledge about the tools available for management and decision-making, and opportunities for forest adaptation.
- To discuss research priorities and challenges for future research.