Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder subsistence and coffee farming communities in Central America

Submitted by Camila Donatti | published 13th Jun 2013 | last updated 30th Mar 2015

In Central America, smallholder farmers are at the heart of the agricultural sector, and many of them depend directly on natural ecosystems for the provision of water, soil conservation, pest control and other services.

Introduction

Climate models indicate that Central America will likely experience warmer and drier seasons and increases in the frequency of extreme weather events as a result of climate change. Smallholder farmers are likely to be particularly vulnerable to these expected changes due to their high dependence on agriculture for their livelihoods and their limited resources and capacity to cope with shocks. There is therefore an urgent need to identify strategies that help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. Improving the productivity and resiliency of smallholder farming systems is also critical for alleviating poverty and achieving food security.

Conservation International (CI) and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) are working together to identify and test Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) strategies that can help smallholder farming communities adapt to these climate changes. The joint research project, CASCADE (Central American Subsistence and Coffee farmer ADaptation based on Ecosystems), aims to build local capacity to support the implementation of EbA strategies in three countries: Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.

The project will directly benefit smallholder coffee and subsistence farmers across Central America by providing them with EbA options that can reduce their vulnerability to climate change. The project will also provide valuable support and information to agricultural organizations, coffee institutes, NGOs and other groups working with smallholder farmers on climate change adaptation and food security. Other beneficiaries include policy makers, government institutions, civil society groups, and the donor community working to promote adaptation among smallholder farmers who will have access to detailed information on farmer adaptation needs and appropriate adaptation options.

CASCADE is generously funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the framework of the International Climate Initiative (ICI) and will run until 2017. In addition to CI and CATIE, another key partner in the project is CIRAD.

Project organization

The project is organized in seven workpackages:

Workpackage 1: Research on climate change impacts: Goal: to understand the vulnerability of Central American ecosystems and smallholder farmers (both subsistence and coffee) to climate change.

Workpackage 2: Vulnerability assessment: Goal: to identify which smallholder (both subsistence and coffee) farming communities, ecosystems and ecosystem services in the target countries are most vulnerable to climate change.

Workpackage 3: Ecosystem-based adaptation identification: Goal: to document household livelihood strategies used to cope with past climatic variability and local knowledge about expected impacts of climate change across a range of different smallholder communities.

Workpackage 4: Ecosystem based adaptation evaluation: Goal: to test the effectiveness of existing on-farm activities that are relevant for EbA in a subset of communities by collecting detailed information on the characteristics, management, and implementation of those activities, and their performance in the face of climate change.

Workpackage 5: Institutional Analysis: Goal: to identify the local and national institutions (both formal and informal) that could promote EbA approaches among vulnerable smallholder farming communities and define strategies for strengthening their role in promoting EbA and smallholder resilience to climate change.

Workpackage 6: Capacity Building for Ecosystem based adaptation extension: Goal: to strengthen capacity of key organizations and institutions to support implementation of EbA approaches with smallholder farming communities by developing and delivering targeted training courses and extension materials.

Workpackage 7: Multiplication and amplification: Goal: to promote the incorporation of EbA approaches in national and regional adaptation strategies and other relevant policies through dissemination of project results to a wide set of stakeholders and decision-makers at national, regional and international levels.

Activities

A combination of research, implementation and outreach activities in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras are being developed as part of the CASCADE project. Those activities will help us achieve the following outputs:

  • Better understanding of the climate change impacts and the vulnerability of ecosystem services, agricultural production and livelihoods
  • Identification of strategies used by smallholder farmers to adapt to climate variability
  • Better understanding of the effectiveness of EbA strategies
  • Development of training materials on EbA approaches and on its application to smallholder farming communities
  • Improvement in the capacity of relevant institutions to promote EbA strategies
  • Political and economic analysis to help promote EbA strategies
  • Dissemination of project results to a wide set of stakeholders and decision-makers at various levels

News and Presentations

Side event about ecosystem based adaptation for smallholder farmers at the SBSTA UNFCC in Bonn, Germany (organized by Celia Harvey)

The side event "Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder farmers: opportunities and constraints" took place on June 7th 2014 and had presenters from UNEP, Conservation International, CARE, World Vision and the International Climate Initiative of the German government. At the beginning of the event, Celia Harvey gave an introductory presentation on what EbA means for smallholder farmers.

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Presentation Ecosystem-based adaptation options for smallholder farmers in a side event at the SBSTA UNFCCC in Bonn, Germany

Camila Donatti gave the talk entitled "Ecosystem-based adaptation options for smallholder coffee farmers in Central America and pastoralists in South Africa" presenting some of results of the CASCADE project on the EbA practices used by smallholder farmers in Central America.

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Presentation on the Ecosystem-based adaptation practices that help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change at the 3rd International Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Fortaleza, Brazil

The talk, entitled "Ecosystem-based adaptation options for smallholder farmers in Central America: an approach from expert’s interviews" was presented by Ruth Martinez in the Adaptation Futures conference in Fortaleza, Brazil on May 13th 2014.

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Presentation about agriculture and ecosystem-based adaptation in a workshop organized by IICA

The talk entitled "Agriculture and Ecosystem based adaptation" was presented by Celia Harvey in the workshop "Agriculture and Ecosystem based adaptation" that was organized by IICA and took place in San Jose, Costa Rica, on February 26th 2014.

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Presentation about Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder farmers in Central America in a workshop organized by IICA

The talk "Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder farmers in Central America" was presented by Milagro Saborío in the workshop "Agriculture and Ecosystem based adaptation" that was organized by IICA and took place in San Jose, Costa Rica, on February 26th 2014.

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Pablo Imbach featured in El Financeiro's "The Forty Under Forty"

Pablo Imbach was featured in El Financiero's prestigious "Los 40 menores de 40" (The Forty Under Forty) on November 23rd 2013. In his interview, Dr. Imbach talked about his field of study and the CASCADE project.

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Pablo Imbach gave an interview to Costa Rica’s La Nacion

Pablo Imback talked about the data that he and his team are analyzing for the CASCADE project on temperature and preciitation projections, as well as future trends for Central America.

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CASCADE got international exposure at the Wallace Conference 2013

The Wallace conference was held at CATIE, in Turrialba, Costa Rica, from September 30th to October 4th 2013. Several colleagues involved in the CASCADE project attend and presented their work in this event. Celia Harvey gave a talk entitled "Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder subsistence and coffee farming communities in Central America (CASCADE)". In her presentation, Celia gave an introduction to the CASCADE project, presented some initial findings, the work that has been conducted, and the relevance of this project for Climate-smart landscapes.

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Consistencies in expert and scientific knowledge about management practices that reduce the impacts of extreme events on smallholder farming systems in Costa Rica

This poster, presented at the 2013 Wallace Conference by Pável Bautista-Solis, is based on a literature review that is addressing the types of adaptation strategies being employed by smallholder farmers (coffee and basic grains) to reduce their vulnerability to extreme events, identifying those which are EbA options.

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Poster presented at Conservation International's Institutional Learning Week

Camila Donatti presented a poster entitled "CASCADE project: EbA for smallholder farming communities in Central America" at CI's Institutional Learning Week, an event opened for CI's staff from our headquarters office in Crystal City and from CI offices around the world.

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Presentation on adaptation to climate change at 4th Regional seminar on agriculture and climate change organized by ECLAC and FAO

Milagro Saborío gave a talk entitled "Economía de adaptación de la agricultura al cambio climático", summarizing different research approaches dealing with the economy of adaptation. The seminar took place in Santiago, Chile, November 13-14, 2013.

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Poster Presented at the Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture

A poster entitled "Can Ecosystem-based adaptation help reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers to climate change in Central America?" was presented by Mario Chacón at the Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in UC Davis on March 21st, 2013.

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FEATURED PUBLICATIONS

Ecosystem-based adaptation options for smallholder coffee farmers in Central America and pastoralists in South Africa

Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Smallholder Subsistence and Coffee Farming Communities in Central America (CASCADE)

Adaptación al cambio climático basada en el manejo de ecosistemas para pequeños productores agrícolas de subsistencia y cafetaleros en América Central (CASCADA)

Climate-smart landscapes: opportunities and challenges for integrating adaptation and mitigation in tropical agriculture

Consistencies in expert and scientific knowledge about management practices that reduce the impacts of extreme events on smallholder farming systems in Costa Rica

Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Smallholder Farmers: opportunities and constraints

Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Smallholder Subsistence and Coffee Farming Communities in Central America (CASCADE)

CASCADE project: EbA for smallholder farming communities in Central America

Ecosystem-based adaptation options for smallholder farmers in Central America: an approach from experts’ interviews

Climate change research: Ecosystembased Adaptation for Smallholder Subsistence and Coffee Farming Communities in Central America

Economía de la adaptación de la agricultura al cambio climático: dónde estamos y retos pendientes

Agricultura y la Adaptación basada en Ecosistemas

Adaptación Basada en Ecosistemas para pequeños productores en Centroamérica (CASCADA)


The CASCADE Project website

CASCADE Project: View this page in English »

Sobre CASCADA: Ver esta página en español »

 

For more information, please contact

Project Leads

Celia Harvey, Project Director for CI, charvey@conservation.org

Francisco Alpízar, Project Director for CATIE, falpizar@catie.ac.cr

 

Project Coordinators

Ruth Martinez, Project Manager for CI, rmartinez@conservation.org

Bárbara Viguera, Project Manager for CATIE, bviguera@catie.ac.cr

This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (ICI). German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.


Related project initiatives on EbA

  • The EcoADAPT project in Latin America
  • The Role of Biodiversity in Climate Change Mitigation in Latin America (ROBIN)
  • The Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS) in the Uluguru mountains, in Tanzania (East Africa)
  • The Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) programme.