The IUFRO World Congress is one of the largest global forest events, held every five years since 1839. The congress gives a unique opportunity to gather worldwide leading scientists and top leaders to contribute and co-create for a sustainable future within Forestry, Climate and Society – aligned with the UN:s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the future ahead.
The Western Indian Ocean Mangrove Network in collaboration with US Forest Service through the Sustainable Wetland Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP) supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development will organise a Special Session on Coastal Blue Forests: Global Significance, Ecology, Management and Conservation.
Coastal Blue Forests exist at the interface of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, extending from the boreal zone to the tropics. Despite their small proportion to the global forest resource, the tidal freshwater forested wetlands and mangroves that comprise Blue Forests are globally recognized for providing highly valued ecosystem services integral to local livelihoods and having ecosystem carbon densities that exceed most terrestrial forests. Nevertheless, these ecosystems are threatened from climate change related sea level rise, deforestation, and conversion to other land uses throughout their range. A number of calls to action to explore the best options and measures to reverse the trend are made, but still substantial gaps in knowledge on their fate exists. The objective of this session is to synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding Coastal Blue Forest ecology, silviculture, management, monitoring, and potential as carbon sinks. We are proposing an oral session to convey the importance of these forests, synthesize the science underpinning management and monitoring efforts, characterize the diverse forest systems comprising Coastal Blue Forests, and highlight the intricacies associated with sustainable community-based management, restoration and conservation.
The proposed session will engage speakers and a plenary discussion to address: (a) definition and characterization of the resource (b) inventory, assessment, and monitoring (c) ecology, (d) silviculture & restoration potential, and (e) community-based management. We intend to invite a diverse panel of recognized experts from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, representing the global extent of the resource, cultural diversity, and institutional perspectives. We would work with the speakers to craft a coherent program that incorporates the principal tenants of the session.
The session would open with a concise perspective on the general characteristics and extent of Blue Forests globally. Subsequent speakers would highlight inventory, and assessment with a focus on objective and synoptic inventory strategies, and synthesize advancements in the application of remote sensing and other tools for resource assessment and monitoring. The ecology of Coastal Blue Forests will be appraised through analysis of the differences in freshwater and marine environments. The session will include presentation on silvicultural systems for management and restoration of tidal freshwater forests and mangroves. Management, including restoration, of blue forests are inextricably linked to local communities; speakers will analyze the complexities of communities and governance systems in development of sustainable management approaches.