CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON TROPICAL FORESTS: IDENTIFYING RISKS FOR TROPICAL ASIA
Keywords:Climate extremes, forest disturbance, forest fragmentation, species composition, species distribution, phenology
There is growing evidence that global climate change is significantly altering forest ecosystems, and will continue to do so in the future. Changes in mean climate and climate extremes such as drought, storms, cyclones and wildfires can fundamentally alter species distribution, composition, phenology, and forest structure. This study reviewed the available evidence of climate change impacts on tropical forests. We selected 85 studies based on two selection criterias and recorded the impacts of climate change on different areas of tropical forests. The majority of the studies examined climate change impacts on forest structure and composition (72%), with few considering phenology (8%). This study focused on tropical Asian forests because of their high biodiversity values and their vulnerability to the interacting threats of forest fragmentation and climate change. The difference map (2080–2100 compared with 1980–2000) indicates a significant acceleration of mean warming (5–9 °C) and increase in mean precipitation (0.5–1 mm day-1) in the Himalayan Highlands, Tibetan Plateau and arid regions of South Asia. Based on this review, two issues were posed to direct future tropical forest research: (1) effect of climate change on the extinction risk of tropical trees and (2) integration of climate change risks into forest policy and management.