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Adaptations aux incertitudes climatiques de long terme : trajectoires socio-écologiques de la gestion forestière française

Abstract : Adapting forest management to climate change (CC) is a key issue, as forests are crucial for mitigation policies and the provision of many ecosystem services (ES). Understanding the magnitude of the progress made in this respect can help shape further adaptation developments and avoid the putative maladaptive side effects of forest management evolutions. Here, I aim to bridge the knowledge gap of adaptation implementation in French forests.Chapter 1: Based on semi-structured interviews with foresters, my findings highlight unprecedented aspects of adaptations: (i) a focus on productive ES at the expense of other essential services such as water supply or natural habitats; (ii) adaptations rely on technical changes in forest management and do not deal with climate impacts through organizational or economic tools; and (iii) envisaging ecological processes through adaptations is instrumental and limited to small spatial and temporal scales. My results also extend the existing body of knowledge to the framework of forest management: (i) CC is not the main driver of forestry changes; (ii) extreme events are windows of opportunity to stimulate adaptive changes; and (iii) proactive adaptation to unexperienced hazards is very weak.Chapter 2: Assessment of the diversity of research projects in the forest sciences focusing on CC. I categorized projects according to discipline and main focus, using data from the online description of French public calls for proposals and from selected projects. Since 1997, mitigation research has gradually given way to adaptation. Despite pledges for the inclusion of social sciences, research rarely draws on the social sciences and focuses on ES of economic interest. Biomass production is paramount, being addressed either directly or through projects on tree species of industrial interest. Hence, instead of a diverse search for adaptation strategies, climate research is geared toward a few ES. Without denying the need for timber and biofuel production, I encourage public funders to complement current calls for proposals with more diverse approaches beneficial for both biomass production and other ES.Chapter 3: I study how multiple mechanisms for the mitigation of CC have been developed, drawing on a combination of reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While mechanisms are mandatory for certain economic sectors, some business that are not required to mitigate their GHG emissions would nevertheless like to do so. I examine two study cases in France to analyze how public and private foresters seized this opportunity to obtain complementary funding from such companies for forestry operations. I focus on offset contracts issued by associations linking public sector forestry agencies, forest landowners, and offset funders. Carbon mitigation was a reason shared by all contractors to commit to the agreement, although it concealed multifarious motivations. Hence, I argue that voluntary offset contracts act like a Trojan horse by enabling foresters to dialogue with entities that would otherwise not be interested in supporting forest management. Regional embedding was crucial to overcoming the mitigation challenges.Chapter 4: To gain insight on how can socio-economic adaptive tools complement technical evolutions of forestry, I designed Foster Forest, a participatory simulation of forest management. It combines a role-playing game, an agent-based model, and a scenario of CC with high uncertainties. Drawing from multiple applications in French regions, I show that climate change is not a short-term matter of concern for private and public foresters. I analyze the emergence of socio-economic changes (mainly payment for carbon storage) in the provision of ES, and participants’ negotiations to spontaneously change the simulation rules. I also highlight how collective adaptive action was steered by stakeholders with a public interest role.
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Timothée Fouqueray. Adaptations aux incertitudes climatiques de long terme : trajectoires socio-écologiques de la gestion forestière française. Ecologie, Environnement. Université Paris-Saclay, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLA029⟩. ⟨tel-02511305⟩

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