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Southeast Asia

Satellite data shows that temperatures in April 2016 soared to as much as 6-7 degrees Celsius (about 11-13 degrees Fahrenheit) higher on Southeast Asia's mainland than the average April temperature of the region during 2000-2006. Credit: Kaustubh ThirumalaiScientists at The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) have found that a devastating combination of global warming and El Niño is responsible for causing extreme temperatures in April 2016 in Southeast Asia.

The research, published on June 6 in the journal Nature Communications, shows that El Niño triggered the heat, causing about half of the warming, while global warming caused one-third and raised the heat into record-breaking territories, according to the team's analysis. El Niño is a climate pattern that impacts the tropical Pacific, and usually brings warmer temperatures to Southeast Asia in April.

In April 2016, high temperatures in mainland Southeast Asia broke all previous records, exacerbating energy consumption, disrupting crop production and causing severe human discomfort in Cambodia, Thailand and other countries in the region. The especially high temperatures of 2016 made the researchers interested in investigating the factors behind such extreme heat, including the impact of the record-breaking El Niño of 2015 and whether ongoing global warming played a significant role in the event.

The researchers used computer model simulations designed to disentangle the natural and human-made causes of the extreme heat. They also used observations from land and ocean monitoring systems and found that long-term warming has played an increasing role in rising April temperatures in Southeast Asia. Since 1980, this trend has caused a new temperature record each April following an El Niño.

"The El Niño system primes mainland Southeast Asia for extremes, although long-term warming is undoubtedly exacerbating these hot Aprils," said UTIG postdoctoral fellow Kaustubh Thirumalai, who led the study. UTIG is a research unit of the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

Read more: El Niño and global warming combine to cause record-breaking heat in Southeast Asia

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Ms. Mai Thin Yu Mon, AIPP Executive Council Youth Representative and Programme Country Director of Chin Human Rights Organization reads the CSO Statement.

Background

The CSO Forum on Social Forestry in ASEAN was established in 2012, and is participated in by civil society organizations and community based organizations, indigenous peoples’ networks and membership organizations who are present in ASEAN and are implementing capacity building, awareness raising, and technical support programs on forest and NTFP livelihood and marketing, forest tenure and access rights, and traditional and indigenous knowledge systems on natural resources, and a few projects in REDD+. It is a platform to distil, consolidate and relay key messages from CSOs and communities to ASEAN member states through the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry (AWGSF).

This year’s 6th Annual Gathering of the CSO Forum  on Social Forestry in ASEAN, was participated by over 60 participants from 40 organizations, from more than 8 countries. Following the development of our CSO Forum vision last year at the 10th Annual Meeting and Policy Dialogue in Palawan, Philippines, and the setting of our goals and targets up to 2020 to contribute to the ASEAN cooperation on forestry, we are pleased to share our update with you.

Social forestry provides significant contribution to global targets for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and is one of  the already proven mechanisms to achieve sustainable forest management. Indigenous peoples and local communities are already leading several restoration initiatives in forested landscapes. RECOFTC’s report on the status of social forestry in ASEAN noted that approximately 10M hectares has been allocated as of 2016 which is around 50% of the ASEAN countries’ social forestry target as of that year.

The target for other countries like Indonesia has since been increased which we see as a sign of an expanding commitment to social forestry. The increased target affirms trust in indigenous and local communities as vital stewards of ASEAN forests. We hope that other ASEAN countries may follow suit.

The engagement with the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) is ongoing with several marketing events to support community forest enterprises in the region. Relationship between CSOs and ASEAN member states made possible through the facilitation of the ASEAN Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change (ASFCC) has indeed improved and is making vital contribution.

Read more: Statement of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Forum on Social Forestry in ASEAN during the 7th...

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Climate change could damage the fragile zones, causing major carbon emissions.

Researchers have found one of the last undisturbed tropical peat forests, in the nation of Brunei on the island of Borneo.  Photo: Courtesy of the researchers

The researchers were able to see how peatlands function under normal conditions, to provide a baseline for better understanding as the lands change.

Tropical peat swamp forests, which once occupied large swaths of Southeast Asia and other areas, provided a significant “sink” that helped remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such forests have been disappearing fast due to clear-cutting and drainage projects making way for plantations. Now, research shows peatlands face another threat, as climate change alters rainfall patterns, potentially destroying even forested peatlands that remain undrained.

Read more: Peatlands, already dwindling, could face further losses

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