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2012-08-30 | News | Cascade

Introducing The CASCADE Project: a new research initiative on ecosystem-based adaptation in Central America

CATIE and Conservation International joined forces to work together in research and capacity building to bring impacts at both the policy and field implementation scale.

Central American smallholder farmers and coffee producers provide most of the food and cash income for many families in the region. These farmers and producers are very sensitive to climate change and to changes in the provision of services from natural ecosystems (such as water supply, pollination and erosion control, etc.). Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) strategies are an effective way to dealing with impacts from changes in climate and the natural system.

With a new research project called “Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Smallholder Subsistence and Coffee Farming Communities in Central America”, (The CASCADE Project) researchers in the Research Program in Economics and Environment for Development (EfD) and the Climate and Watershed Program at CATIE and Conservation International (CI) will work together for six years in identifying EbA strategies to enhance and build farmers’ resilience and resistance to the impacts of climate change in Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala. The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) is going to be a key partner in the project as well as other key organizations working on EbAs in the region. The financial support for this project is provided the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of Germany.

CASCADE’s goals are “very ambitious but adaptation to climate change requires on the ground action and ambitious thinking” said project co-director Francisco Alpízar (EfD-CATIE). The project seeks to identify climate vulnerabilities; document strategies useful in dealing with climatic variation; assess effectiveness of household and community-level EbA interventions; assess institutional support for EbA; build capacity to assess and support implementation of EbAs through agricultural extension systems; and disseminate project results at multiple levels to achieve impacts at both the policy and field implementation scale. Very ambitious indeed!

Project co-director Celia Harvey (CI) said “we are not reinventing the wheel”. The project will multiply and upscale lessons from local communities to a broad range of vulnerable communities. It will “build on existing extension capacities to deliver EbAs at community and household levels” said Harvey, by training trainers from key institutions, providing ongoing support to these institutions to replicate training of EbA approaches with a broader suite of farmers, and impacting decision-makers through targeted outreach, media, information sharing and policy briefs. It will also complement existing initiatives and projects on adaptation in Latin America, enabling lesson-sharing across the region.

The CASCADE Project started this week during a three day kick off meeting held in CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica between August 27 and 31, 2012.

For more information contact CASCADE Project Co-directors:

Francisco Alpízar,
Director EfD-CA at CATIE

Celia Harvey,
Vice President for Global Change and Ecosystem Services at CI