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Integrating ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation in Africa: policy and practice

Locatelli B.. 2015. In : Building tomorrow¿s research agenda and bridging the science-policy gap. Montpellier : CIRAD; INRA, p. 29-29. Climate Smart Agriculture 2015 : Global Science Conference. 3, 2015-03-16/2015-03-18, Montpellier (France).

Ecosystem conservation and management have been highlighted as important interventions for climate change mitigation because of the potential of ecosystems to store carbon storage. Ecosystems can also play other frequently overlooked, but significant, roles in helping society adapt to climate variability and change by providing important ecosystem services. Recognizing this role of ecosystems, several international and nongovernmental organizations have promoted an ecosystem-based approach to adaptation or EbA (Ecosystem-based Adaptation) and several projects and policies in Africa are integrating EbA. This approach to adaptation is an integral part of climate-smart landscapes, which are managed for three objectives: mitigating climate change, contributing to societal adaptation and ensuring that the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on landscapes and their ecosystems are minimized. The scientific literature on ecosystem services and societal vulnerability to climate variations shows the diversity of situations in which EbA can be observed in Africa. The presentation will describe six cases in which ecosystem can support adaptation and will provide examples in Africa: (1) ecosystems providing goods to local communities facing climatic threats; (2) trees in agricultural fields and pasture regulating water, soil, and microclimate for more resilient crop or livestock production; (3) ecosystems regulating water and protecting soils for reduced climate impacts in watersheds; (4) mangroves and coastal ecosystems protecting coastal areas from climate-related threats; (5) urban forests and trees regulating temperature and water for resilient cities; and (6) ecosystems regulating regional climate for example through rainfall recycling. The literature provides evidence that EBA can reduce social vulnerability to climate hazards; however, uncertainties and knowledge gaps remain, particularly for regulating services at large scale (watersheds, coastal areas and region). A limited number of studies are available on EBA specifically, but the abundant literature on ecosystem services can be used to fill knowledge gaps. Many studies assess the multiple benefits of ecosystems for human adaptation or well-being, but also recognize trade-offs between ecosystem services. Better understanding is needed of the efficiency, costs, and benefits, and trade-offs of EBA with forests and trees. Pilot projects under implementation could serve as learning sites and existing information could be systematized and revisited with a climate change lens. The management of ecosystems for responding to climate change challenges should take place at the landscape level. A spatially explicit approach is needed to understand how ecosystems influence societal adaptation, for example through the water regulation services provided by upstream ecosystems to downstream populations. Such an approach is also needed to analyze how ecosystems may be affected by - and adapt to - climate change; for example because connectivity between forested areas influences how plants and species can migrate as a result of climate change. In addition to considering spatial dimensions in analyzing problems or solutions, the landscape approach provides a framework for action, in which stakeholders and institutions work together in implementing climate-smart landscape management and negotiating trade-offs. (Texte intégral)...

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