Use of Ecosystem-based Adaptation practices by smallholder coffee farmers in Central America
Keywords:Climate change, home gardens, live fences, shade
Introduction. In Central America, smallholder coffee farmers are threatened by rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns. One strategy that could help support smallholder farmer communities adapt to climate change is the use of Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) practices, which are based on the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of ecosystems and biodiversity. However, little information exists on how farmers use these practices. Objective. The objective of this work was to describe the use of eleven EbA practices by smallholder coffee farmers in five landscapes in Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala, and compare whether the biophysical characteristics and implementation of these practices differed between landscapes. Materials and methods. The characterization of EbA practices in the field was done using participatory mapping, surveys, area and measurements of vegetation composition and structure, from July 2014 to June 2015. Comparisons between landscapes were made using analysis of variance. Results. The study suggests that most farmers are already actively using EbA practices, especially shade trees in coffee plots, contour planting, home gardens and live fences. However, there were important differences across landscapes in the prevalence and characteristics of the EbA practices implemented. Conclusion. These differences suggest that smallholder farmers adapt the use of these practices in response to their social and biophysical contexts and that there is value in organizing exchanges among farmers from different regions to share their knowledge of these practices.
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