“You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.” - Albert Einstein
A preliminary climate change investigation conducted by Sappi Forests’ scientists indicated that climate change is likely to be greater in Southern Africa compared to the world average. This in-house study highlighted that simply understanding changes to annual averages is not enough if we are to mitigate potential losses and that we needed to understand the impact of the new world of climate change in finer detail.
The impact of climate change on Southern Africa is likely to be greater than the world average.
Accordingly, Sappi and other forestry companies in South Africa, with financial support from the Department of Science and Technology Forest Sector Innovation Fund, have initiated a detailed climate change mapping project with the Global Change Institute (GCI) at the University of the Witwatersrand.
The first phase involves the generation of raster [a rectangular pattern of parallel scanning lines] climate surfaces for the entire forestry domain of South Africa, at a resolution of eight kilometres, with monthly time resolution, for the years 2020, 2030, 2040 to 2100. The variables include approximately 20 important bioclimatic indicators and both averages and information about their statistical distribution, such as variances, confidence ranges and probabilities of exceedance.
Phase 1 involves the generation of raster climate surfaces at a resolution of eight kilometres.
The next phase involves refining the bioclimatic indicators and making them more specific for species or issues; and/or inclusion of more ensemble members or scenarios to broaden the robustness of the evaluation; and/or 1 km data for selected parts of the country.
The process is computationally intensive, so cannot immediately be applied to all the forest extent in South Africa but, over time, key areas will be prioritised.
Among other things, phase 2 involves the generation of raster climate surfaces at a one-kilometre resolution.
The detailed maps will enhance Sappi Forests’ ability to manage and mitigate the impact of climate change.