Costa Rican Researchers Say Region’s Farmers Not Prepared for Climate Change

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Researchers from Costa Rica’s Tropical Agronomic Research and Teaching Center and the non-profit Conservation International published findings on the impact of climate change in Latin America.

Climatic Change magazine’s special edition in March, Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystems, Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers in Central America, detailed the negative impacts of climate change in Central America on agriculture and ecosystems.

The special edition includes 10 articles based on scientific studies. Eight of these studies were carried out jointly by researchers from CATIE (Tropical Agronomic Research and Teaching Center) in Costa Rica and Conservation International (CI).

One of the main research findings is that, “The vast majority of small farmers in the region have low adaptability and will require considerable support to adapt to climate change.”

The joint research was part of a project called “Ecosystem-based adaptation for small subsistence producers and coffee in Central America (CASCADA),” which is part of the German government’s International Climate Protection Initiative.

Costa Rican researchers at CATIE’s Environmental Modeling Laboratory included Pablo Imbach, Claudia Bouroncle, Claudia Medellín, Selena Georgiou, Emily Fung, Juan Carlos Zamora and Freddy Argotty; Raffaele Vignola, of the Climate Change and Watershed Program; and Sergio Vílchez, from the Biostatistics Unit. Researchers Celia Harvey, Lee Hannah, Camila Donatti and other CI scientists were among the co-authors of these works.

Bárbara Viguera, CASCADA coordinator, said “The studies make important contributions to decision-making in Central America, and help understand how they affect the impacts of climate change on poorly studied areas in the region.”

Current challenges facing the region and policy strategies to help to optimize regional adaptation were identified in the research and included the following main conclusions:

  • Climate change will have severe consequences on the hydrology and availability of water resources in the region.
  • A potential reduction of tropical humid forests in Central America is expected as a result of climate change, which will be replaced by savannas and prairies.
  • Priority areas for biodiversity conservation are likely to change as a result of climate change, requiring careful planning and redesign of national conservation area systems.
  • Conserving and restoring forest areas will be critical to maintaining populations of bees and other pollinators.
  • The vast majority of small farmers in the region have low adaptability and will require considerable support to adapt to climate change.
  • The results of existing regional models for smallholder agriculture and ecosystems can guide adaptation policies.
  • Policy-makers require additional scientific and technical information to take immediate action to adapt to small farmers.

All articles are freely accessible at this link.

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