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EditTitle:The CASCADE Project
EditPhoto Description:Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder farmers in Central America
EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_98327021.jpg
EditImage Description:Picking coffee berries
EditPhoto Credit:© Ingmar Zahorsky
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In Central America, smallholder farmers are the heart of the agriculture sector — and they are among the people most vulnerable to climate change.


In fact, these farmers​ represent the majority of the farming population — and account for a significant portion of agricultural production. They are also particularly vulnerable to climate change given their small land holdings, high dependence on nature for services such as fresh water and pollination, limited capacity to adapt to changes and high dependence on rain-fed crops. But research shows that climate change will likely reduce crop yields, change pest and disease outbreaks and have significant negative impacts on farmer livelihoods.​



Our role

To help smallholder farmers in Central America,​ Conservation International has partnered with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). Together, through the CASCADE project, we are identifying and testing ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) strategies — such as restoring and protecting forests to ensure future water supply and prevent landslides — that use nature as a tool to help smallholder farming communities adapt to climate change. We are supporting the implementation of these strategies in Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.

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Edit Item Title:Understand the impacts of climate change on ecosystems services and farming communities
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Edit Item Text:CI and CATIE are identifying the vulnerability of Central American ecosystems and smallholder farmers (both subsistence farmers and coffee farmers) to climate change, taking into account the interests and needs of key stakeholders.
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Edit Item Title:Evaluate ecosystem-based adaptation options
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Edit Item Text:We are evaluating the effectiveness of existing on-farm activities that are relevant for EbA by collecting detailed information about the characteristics, management and implementation of those activities and their performance in the face of climate change.
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Edit Item Title:Increase capacity of key institutions and promote results
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Edit Item Text:CI and CATIE will be working to strengthen the capacity of key institutions, such as policymakers and civil society groups, to support implementation of EbA approaches by developing and delivering targeted training courses and extension materials. We will promote the incorporation of EbA approaches in regional and national climate adaptation strategies through the dissemination of project results to a wide set of stakeholders and decision-makers.
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EditQuote Text (Do not add quotation marks):Sustainable change requires sustainability in time, to internalize methodologies and practices. That requires that farmers see results with their own eyes.
EditQuote Attribution:Marco Trejo, expert in basic grains in Honduras
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    EditSection Title:Mapping agricultural landscapes and adaptive capacity in Central America
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      EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_47283891.JPG
      EditImage Description: People working in a tree nursery in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest
      EditText: A key challenge in tropical developing countries is the lack of data available to determine the spatial distribution of smallholder farming communities and their adaptive capacities. In order to overcome this challenge, we developed a novel participatory and expert mapping process to produce national-scale maps of unique agricultural landscapes in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. This process also allowed for a characterization of the overall adaptive capacity of smallholder coffee and subsistence farming at a landscape scale, setting the stage for further analysis to support climate adaptation strategies. The maps were developed in two phases, through structured interviews and a series of expert validation workshops.
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      EditPhoto Credit:© Thomas Muller
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      EditSection Title:Household surveys and fieldwork to characterize farmers and farms
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        EditImage Description: Farmer applying pruning techniques learned as part of the benefits of conservation agreements in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest.
        EditText: Six landscapes have been chosen as locations to conduct household surveys and fieldwork, based on the presence of low income diversification, the consumption of basic grains and the existence of adverse climate impacts in the past. Information about access, security, partner presence and government interests were also considered in the selection. In Costa Rica, we will work in Turrialba and Los Santos; in Guatemala, we will work in Trifinio and Acatenango; and in Honduras, we will work in Tegucigalpa-Choluteca and Montaña de Yoro. The costs and effectiveness of the the EbA practices used by farmers in these landscapes will be characterized through field work.
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        EditPhoto Credit:© Thomas Muller
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          Edit Item Text:Celia Harvey
          Project Director for CI
          charvey@conservation.org
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          Edit Item Text:Francisco Alpízar
          Project Director for CATIE
          falpizar@catie.ac.cr
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          Edit Item Text:Ruth Martinez
          Project Manager for CI
          rmartinez@conservation.org
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          Edit Item Text:Milagro Saborío-Rodríguez
          Project Manager for CATIE
          msaborio@catie.ac.cr
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          ​ ​

          This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (ICI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports these initiatives on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
          The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (logo)

          More of Our Work Links

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          First Image

          EditTitle:Climate
          EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_30785027.jpg
          EditLink:/what/Pages/Climate.aspx
          EditImage Alt Text:Night falls over Rio de Janeiro. © Nikada

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          EditTitle:Science and Innovation
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          EditImage Alt Text:Scientists set a camera trap. © Benjamin Drummond

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          EditTitle:The Ocean
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          EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse