Can ecosystem-based adaptation address the adaptation needs of smallholder farmers? Insights from smallholder coffee and subsistence farmers in central America

Alpizar Francisco, Avelino Jacques, Bautista Solis Pavel, Cardenas Jose Mario, Donatti Camila I., Martinez-Rodriguez Ruth, Rapidel Bruno, Saborio-Rodriguez Milagro, Vignola Raffaele, Viguera Barbara. 2015. Can ecosystem-based adaptation address the adaptation needs of smallholder farmers? Insights from smallholder coffee and subsistence farmers in central America. In : Proceedings of the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology and 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology " Mission biodiversity: choosing new paths for conservation". Visconti P. (ed.), Game E. (ed.), Mathevet R. (ed.), Wilkerson M. (ed.). Washington DC : SCB, Résumé, pp. 289-290. International Congress for Conservation Biology. 27, Montpellier, France, 2 August 2015/6 August 2015.

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Additional Information : A l'occasion de ce congrès c'est également déroulé le 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology du 02 au 06 Août 2015 à Montpellier en France.

Abstract : In many regions, climate change is having significant adverse impacts on the agricultural production and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, with important consequences for global food security.. Helping smallholder farmers adapt to climate change has therefore become a priority for many of donors and governments. Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA, defined as the use of ecosystem services and biodiversity as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the effects of climate change) is one approach that could help smallholder farmers, yet there is still limited knowledge on whether EbA can meet the adaptation needs of smallholder farmers. Here, we provide an overview of what EbA means in the context of smallholder agricultural production. Drawing on expert surveys, field work and household surveys of smallholder coffee and subsistence farmers in Central America, we provide examples of EbA strategies that are suitable for smallholder farmers, characterize how farmers are implementing these strategies, and provide insights into the perceived advantages and drawbacks of different practices for reducing farmer vulnerability. Our study highlights that many agricultural practices that smallholder farmers already use (e.g., agroforestry systems, soil conservation practices, live fences) can be considered EbA, as they are based on the management of biodiversity and ecosystem services and t help and enhance the resilience of agricultural systems. Most smallholder farmers are aware of the relative benefits of EbA practices, but also acknowledge important constraints, such as the cost of setting up the practices and maintenance, andlimited financial, technical and political support. Scaling up the use of EbA through targeted government policies, extension services and farmer programs could not only help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change, but also ensure healthy, sustainable agroecosystems that sustain local livelihoods.

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Alpizar Francisco, CATIE (CRI)
  • Avelino Jacques, CIRAD-BIOS-UPR Bioagresseurs : analyse et maîtrise du risque (CRI) ORCID: 0000-0003-1983-9431
  • Bautista Solis Pavel, CATIE (CRI)
  • Cardenas Jose Mario, CATIE (CRI)
  • Donatti Camila I., Conservation International (USA)
  • Martinez-Rodriguez Ruth, Conservation International (USA)
  • Rapidel Bruno, CIRAD-PERSYST-UMR SYSTEM (CRI) ORCID: 0000-0003-0288-5650
  • Saborio-Rodriguez Milagro, UCR (CRI)
  • Vignola Raffaele, CATIE (CRI)
  • Viguera Barbara, CATIE (CRI)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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