Ecosystems and adaptation

Community based adaptation suggesting a fundamental role for nature
Jo Phillips (RSPB) and
Helen Jeans (WWF-Network)
“The adjustment in natural or human
systems in response to actual or
expected climatic stimuli or their
effects, which moderates harm or
exploits beneficial opportunities”
IPCC, 2007
Climate change brings into focus the
mutual relationship between society
and nature...
• Adaptation – people and nature
• Bringing what we know to the table
• Back to basics – the role of
• Add climate change….
• Questions (10 mins)
• Integrated approach
• Case studies
• Explore ways forward in discussion
(20 mins)
A ‘conservation’ approach
Focus on biodiversity and ecosystems, the threats
and opportunities facing them.
Science based approaches (hence our science
Site and ecosystem (landscape) scales
Addresses systemic challenges linked to
biodiversity loss
Engagement with one or more local communities
dependant on or impacting ecosystems and
Enriching human life and livelihoods, alleviating
Preserving natural resources into the future
Intrinsic value of nature
Back to basics:
(i) Ecosystems – life on Earth
 An ecosystem is a community of interacting living and
the non-living things.
 Biodiversity (nature) makes up the building blocks of
 Ecosystems work at different and interconnected
scales (e.g. mountain systems to small ponds)
 Changing one thing in an ecosystem, can change the
whole ecosystem.
 Changes to ecosystems can alter the functions and
services that ecosystem provides people.
(ii) Ecosystem Services
– life support systems
Ecosystems provide the foundation of
human life: air, food, water.
Flows from ecosystems used by people
are ‘ecosystem services’
Broadly 4 types of ecosystem services:
1. Provisioning: food, water, timber, etc.
2. Regulating: flood protection, waste
recycling, water quality, etc.
3. Cultural: cultural diversity, beauty, spiritual
meaning, etc.
4. Supporting: photosynthesis, soil formation,
(iii) Thinking beyond NRM…
NRM tends to focus on provisioning services (food,
water, timber, fibre)
Supporting Services
(iv) Dynamic Relationships and
multiple choices
Add climate change...
• Climate change impacts biodiversity,
people, ecosystems and human systems
• Increase vulnerability, risk and poverty
for people.
• Changes biological systems, increased
extinction and change/loss of ecosystem
 Impacts and systems are interrelated
and interdependent.
 Planned adaptation takes place within
this complex dynamic relationship
between human society and nature.
A ‘Conservation’ perspective on
climate change
• Greatest long term threat to biodiversity
• Will cause fundamental shifts and changes to
ecosystems and ecosystem services
• Additional stress exacerbating ecosystem
• Ecosystems can help mitigate climate change
• Healthy ecosystems are more robust and resilient
to climate change
• Ecosystems can support local communities and
their adaptive capacity over time
Questions and reflections
• Any technical questions?
• Has this made you reflect on any particular
experience or on how you might address
community based adaptation? Discuss with
neighbour (5 mins)
• Opportunity to share with room (5 mins)
An integrated approach to climate
Values input from a variety of approaches
Enables a broader understanding of issues
Encourages systems thinking
Increases adaptation choices and options
Helps manage risk and uncertainty
Facilitates “intentional” trade offs (i.e.
more informed choice)
Balances immediate needs and future
Minimises positive feedback loops (i.e.
unintended outcomes)
Builds adaptive capacity at all levels
Works through partnerships
The ‘conservation’ community
can offer
• Planning at ecosystem scale in support
of the local community level
• Ensuring solutions for one community
don't negatively impact another
• Expertise in maintaining ecosystem
functions and services and increasing
ecosystem resilience
• Possibility of no/low regret, locally
appropriate nature based solutions
• Contributing to the building of adaptive
capacity for present and future
• Achieving mitigation and adaptation
Maintaining Landscape Scale
Source: Ecoagriculture Partners
Case Study: a
approach in
The Kikuyu Escarpment Forest IBA provides water, fuelwood,
herbal medicine and building materials for more than
200,000 local people, and the drinking water catchment for
parts of Nairobi. Recent extended dry periods are being
linked to climate change, and predictions suggest this may
worsen. This has resulted in reduced crop yields, driving
some local people to undertake largely unsustainable
activities with negative impacts on the forests and the water
To help
Who: The Kijabe Environment Volunteers, with Nature Kenya and the Kenya
Forest Service
What: Site-based community workshops; local community partnerships to
develop diverse strategies for coping with periods of drought; regular bird
and forest walks to raise awareness; alternative or adapted livelihood
activities such as agro-forestry, crop and livestock diversification, ecoagricultural practices (e.g. bee-keeping), and ecotourism.
Benefits: Household income from unsustainable use of the forest replaced;
impacts of climate change buffered; ecosystems conserved; water
conservation improved, and reduced emissions from deforestation.
Case study: In
lowland Nepal
Why: Drier climate conditions have caused invasive plant
species to thrive in the Sapta Koshi River, threatening the
local resource base and biodiversity.
Who: Bird Conservation Nepal and local community groups
What: Invasive plants cleared and used for fuel and
Benefits: innovative initiative has helped maintain and
strengthen the wetland ecosystem and has provided
alternative livelihoods for local people.
Case Study: India’s Sundarbans Delta
• Sundarbans comprise low-lying mudflats, islands
and tidal waterways that stretch across Bangladesh
and India.
• The Sundarbans Delta mangroves
most extensive in the world
home of the Bengal tiger
act as a natural buffer from cyclones and storm surges
provide nurseries for a diverse range of fish and shellfish,
on which a significant proportion of the Bay of Bengal
fishing industry food chain is founded.
Stresses on the Ecosystem
• unsustainable extraction of mangrove forests for fuel
wood and commercial purposes
• intensive cultivation of the land for agricultural use
• intensive unsustainable aquaculture, especially
shrimp farming.
• dams, barrages and embankments built upstream
have diverted water reducing freshwater inflow increasing salinity and causing changes in
sedimentation and adverse impacts
on forest’s biodiversity.
Add Climate Change
• sea level rise - up to 75% of the Sundarbans may
be lost by 2050
• extremes in climatic variability - causing shoreline
erosion, deposition and flooding
• more intense cyclones and tidal surges
• embankments frequently breached - leading to
serious property damage, loss of land, and longterm salinisation
• changes in precipitation rates and run-off rates
• glacial retreat in the Himalayas will
exacerbate riverbank flooding and erosion.
Working on 102 islands, 54 are inhabited
• testing saline resilient paddy varieties
• promoting sustainable aquaculture practices
• installing pond sand filters for potable drinking water
• pond excavation for irrigation
• community based early warning system, training, disaster
preparedness kits
• seed bank for the saline resistant rice seeds
• training community members on agricultural practices
Cyclone Aila highlighted need for coordinated action of multiple
stakeholders - development of a 'Delta Vision 2050’ with local
communities, NGOs, research organisations, local and
national government and multilateral agencies.
An Integrated Approach
‘The complexity of what we are now facing in a
rapidly climate changing world suggests that no
one individual, group or organisation has all the
necessary skills or competencies either to
comprehensively understand the challenges
involved or to design appropriate solutions’.
John Colvin 'Learning to Live with Climate Change' (2009) Open University, UK
‘doing and learning together’
the key to seeing the wider, systemic picture,
thinking and acting creatively.
“Climate change … …challenges us to think
differently at many levels. Above all, it
challenges us to think about what it means to
live as part of an ecologically interdependent
human community.”
Human Development Report , 2007/2008
Addressing this in context of CBA
– What are opportunities and challenges?
– What practical steps can we take from
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