The role of ecosystems in climate change adaptation: Lessons for scaling up

Jeans, H. et al., 2014. Routledge

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Abstract

Everyone on Earth is dependent on nature for their well-being through the provision of water, food, shelter and clean air to breathe. Human behaviour also changes nature, thus making natural and human systems intricately connected and dependent on one another. Climate change and how people adapt to it affects these interconnected systems. This chapter explores the benefits of taking an approach to climate change adaption that integrates ecosystems into adaptation strategies to build the resilience of vulnerable people and the natural systems on which they depend. It describes the principles behind ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and explains how these can help increase people’s resilience to climate change. It stresses that ecosystems function at different spatial and temporal scales and proposes that understanding these scales and working with them – in addition to social, institutional and political scales – can help ensure adaptation initiatives are effective. Likewise, it stresses that when assessing trade-offs to inform adaptation planning, ecosystems and the services they provide need to be integrated into such assessments. The chapter argues that in many instances, effective scaling up of adaptation initiatives will not be possible without considering these ecosystem-related issues in planning and implementation.

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