22.214.171.124 Natural ecosystems
Ecological corridors between protected areas have been planned for the maintenance of biodiversity in natural ecosystems. Some of these, such as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, have been implemented, and these serve also as adaptation measures. Important projects are those for natural corridors in the Amazon and Atlantic forests (de Lima and Gascon, 1999; CBD, 2003) and the Villcabamba–Amboró biological corridor in Peru and Bolivia (Cruz Choque, 2003). Conservation efforts would be also devoted to implementing protection corridors containing mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs to boost fish abundance on reefs, benefit local fishing communities, and contribute to sustainable livelihoods (WWF, 2004). Other positive practices in the region are oriented towards maintaining and restoring native ecosystems and protecting and enhancing ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration in the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project in Bolivia (Brown et al., 2000). Conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem structure and function are important for climate-change adaptation strategies, due to the protection of genetically diverse populations and species-rich ecosystems (World Bank, 2002a; CBD, 2003); an example is the initiative to implement adaptation measures in high mountain regions which has been developed in Colombia and other Andean countries (Vergara, 2005). A new option to promote mountainous forest conservation consists of compensating forest owners for the environmental services that those forests bring to society (UNEP, 2003a). The compensation is often financed by charging a small price supplement to water users for the water originating in forests. Such schemes are being implemented in various countries of Latin America and were tested in Costa Rica (Campos and Calvo, 2000). In Brazil, ‘ProAmbiente’ is an environmental credit programme of the government, paying for environmental services provided by smallholders that preserve the forest (MMA, 2004). Another initiative in Brazil is the ecological value-added tax, a fiscal instrument that remunerates municipalities that protect nature and generate environmental services, which was adopted initially by the states of Paraná and Minas Gerais, and more recently implemented in parts of the Amazon as well (May et al., 2004).
Some adaptive measures, such as changes in land use, sustainable management, insurance mechanisms, irrigation, adapted genotypes and changes in agronomic crop management, are used in the agricultural sector to cope with climatic variability. In addition, economic diversification has long been a strategy for managing risk (both climatic and market) and this has increased in recent years. While not a direct adaptation to climatic change, this diversification is lessening the dependence of farmers on agricultural income and enabling greater flexibility in managing environmental change (Eakin, 2005). Farmers located on the U.S.–Mexico border have been able to continue farming in the valley through changes in irrigation technology, crop diversification and market orientation, despite the crisis with the local aquifers caused by drought and over-exploitation (Vásquez-León et al., 2003). Sustainable land management based on familiar practices (contour barriers, green manures, crop rotation and stubble incorporation) allowed smallholders in Nicaragua to better cope with the impacts of Hurricane Mitch (Holt-Giménez, 2002). In Mexico, some small farmers are testing adaptation measures for current and future climate, implementing drip-irrigation systems, greenhouses and the use of compost (Conde et al., 2006). According to Wehbe et al. (2006), adjustments in planting dates and crop choice, construction of earth dams and the conversion of agriculture to livestock are increasingly popular adaptation measures in González (Mexico), while in southern Cordoba (Argentina), climate risk insurance, irrigation, adjusting planting dates, spatial distribution of risk through geographically separated plots, changing crops and maintaining a livestock herd were identified as common measures to cope with climatic hazards.