As our climate changes, it becomes increasingly important to prioritize conservation actions that help people cope with the effects of climate change. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) emphasizes the key role that ecosystems can play in helping people adapt to climate change and recognizes that ecosystem-based solutions are often more cost effective than hard engineered solutions. EbA actions include conserving, restoring, or managing ecosystems to best maximize their potential for providing ecosystem services that will aid climate change adaptation. For example, preserving or restoring wetlands is often more effective and cheaper than building levees or sea walls to protect coastal communities from rising sea levels and more frequent storm surges.

Our EbA research is identifying global datasets that will provide information about peoples’ susceptibility and adaptive capacity to the effects of climate change. These data will be combined with information specific to particular EbA options to produce a prioritization tool for particular EbA actions globally. This work is being done in conjunction with Conservation International.

Project participants: Holly Jones, Erika Zavaleta

Ecosystem-based adaptation

People living on low-lying atolls such as this one, who depend on marine resources for their livelihoods are some of the most vulnerable populations. Ecosystem-based adaptation aims to help such people adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change.

Related Publications

  • Jones, H.P., D. Hole, and E.S. Zavaleta 2012. Harnessing nature to help people adapt to climate change. Nature Climate Change 2: 504-509.