New research details profound impact of climate change in Central America
March 1, 2017
ARLINGTON, Va. (March 1, 2017) – Research published today in the journal Climatic Change details the severe consequences of climate change across Central America, including its impact on agriculture and ecosystems. The research is the first to both frame the current challenges facing the region and to identify policy strategies that could help the region adapt.
The research papers, by scientists from Conservation International and partners from over 20 institutions including academia and research centers, are available online at https://link.springer.com/journal/10584/141/1/page/1.
Key research findings include:
- Climate change will have severe consequences in the hydrology and water availability of the region.
- Reductions in tropical rainforest cover in Central America are expected due to climate change, with some areas to be replaced by savanna and grassland.
- The suitability of areas to grow coffee in Nicaragua will move approximately 300 meters upland, which may increase pressure on forests and natural resources at higher altitudes.
- The priority areas for biodiversity conservation will likely shift under climate change, requiring careful planning and updating of protected areas.
- Conserving and restoring forest areas will be important for maintaining populations of bees and other pollinatinators.
- Many smallholder farmers in the region have low adaptive capacity and will require significant support to adapt to climate change.
- Results from existing regional modeling on smallholder agriculture and ecosystems can guide adaptation policies.
- Policy makers require additional scientific and technical information to take immediate action on the adaptation for smallholder farmers.
“These results show that climate change will have major impacts on crop productivity and smallholders in Central America,” said Lee Hannah, a senior scientist at Moore Center for Science and co-author and co-editor of the special issue. “This research improves our ability to help the most vulnerable small farmers and those in poverty.”
The effects of climate change are already evident in Central America, with changes in rainfall, temperature and water availability affecting the region’s large population of smallholder farmers. Their crops reliant on rainfall, these farmers are especially vulnerable to changes in climatic conditions and often have limited financial resources and capacity to cope with climate stresses and shocks.
The research addresses the region’s consistent lack of access to information needed to guide policymaking. This lack of information has impeded policy makers, practitioners and leaders from implementing policy strategies that could help smallholder farmers and the overall region to adapt.
As part of Conservation International’s CASCADE Project, the research is a joint venture with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) and CIRAD, a research center working with developing countries to tackle international agricultural and development issues. Conservation International’s CASCADE Project is funded by the International Climate Initiative of the German Government. The CASCADE “Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Smallholder Subsistence and Coffee Farming Communities in Central America” project is identifying and testing ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) strategies to help smallholder farming communities adapt to these climate changes in Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.
About Conservation International
Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International and its groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign, and follow Conservation International’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.