Ecosystem-based Adaptation

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This Theme aims to collate work on ecosystem-based adaptation by researchers and practitioners around the globe.

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is the management of ecosystems to enhance ecological structures and functions that are essential for ecosystems and people to adapt to multiple changes, including climate change. This approach has the potential to generate multiple benefits. It can help reduce vulnerability to both climatic and non-climatic disturbances, while contributing to socio-economic development and conservation. EbA strategies can provide a window of opportunity to work synergistically on:

  • Maintenance of safety nets that serve as coping mechanisms during periods of scarcity contributing to livelihoods security. For example, using multiple sources of forest foods to support food security during periods of low agricultural productivity caused by severe drought in tropical forested landscapes.
  • Cost-effective buffering against climatic hazards by conserving or restoring ecosystems that can reduce exposure of human settlements to extreme weather events or climate change. For example, combining 'building with nature' techniques with hard-engineering infrastructure to restrore mangrove coastlines that reduce flood risk, erosion and saline intrusion and support adaptation to sea level rise.
  • Integration of sustainable ecosystem management practices into broader landscape-level planning processes. For example, integrated watershed management in peri-urban areas, which has proven to enhance water regulation to support the supply of water for drinking and hydroelectricity generation in cities.
  • Payment for ecosystem services to diversify income generation and build adaptive capacity. For example, conserving a shoreline mangrove and coral reef system to maintain economies based on ecotourism, recreational activities, and fisheries.
  • Climate mitigation by maintaining or enhancing carbon stocks with safeguards in place to support adaptation. For example, collective management of forested landscapes that promotes social learning to conserve forest function and structure, biodiversity and habitat connectivity, and climate-smart agriculture with agroforestry systems.

At the core of this approach lies the recognition of non-linear feedbacks between social and ecological processes. Ecosystem-based approaches can be applied to all types of ecosystems and at different scales from local to global. The multi-sectoral and cross-scale nature of EbA requires the integration of a range of disciplines, actors, and institutions interacting at different levels and influencing diverse decision networks.

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Frances van der Merwe

Climate Change Adaptation/Resilience at Western Cape Government
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Yvonne Githiora-Murimi

Ph.D. student at University of Nairobi
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Tiroyaone Albertinah Matsika

Herbarium technician
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Christina Berneheim

PhD candidate
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Liz Daniels

Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute
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Irene Karani

Director
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Jeffrey Chow

Consultant at ICCCAD
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Lyn Goldsworthy

Executive Director

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Latest Discussions

Tahia Devisscher

Regional Contest Demonstrating evidence of Ecosystem-based Adaptation: Cases in Latin America and the Caribbean

“Practical Action (Soluciones Prácticas), in collaboration with the UN Environment and its Regional Portal for...”

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Mathias Bertram

Invitation to participate in short online survey on experiences of assessing and measuring EbA benefits

“Dear colleagues, The BMUB-IKI funded global project ‘Mainstreaming EbA' , implemented by GIZ, is currently carrying out...”

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Ruth Butterfield

“Hi Ben, is there anything relevant here http://www.globallandproject.org/arquivos/GLPNews_Apr2015.pdf in the NEWSLETTER...”

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EbA approach to agriculture in Africa