Identifying and Evaluating Adaptation Options

Adaptation is necessary not only to respond to the projected changes in climate but also because climate change is already affecting many ecosystems. Adaptation activities can have negative, neutral or positive impacts on biodiversity, but positive effects may generally be achieved through, for example: maintaining and restoring native ecosystems, protecting and enhancing ecosystem services, actively preventing and controlling invasive alien species, and developing agroforestry systems at transition zones. Adaptation activities that can have a negative impact on biodiversity include: the construction of artificial coastal protection, changed water management practices, and new cultivation methods such as mariculture or aquaculture, that can introduce to ecosystems new species with the potential to become invasive.

The following table provides examples of some of the many options available for adapting to climate change. Using the research available on these adaptation options managers may be better able to make an informed decision about the threats and benefits to biodiversity under different adaptation processes.

The table below can be organized by Likely Impact on Biodiversity, Biome or Adaptation Type.

Biome Adaptation Activity Type of Adaptation Potential Risk
to Biodiversity
Possible Action
for Adaptive Mgmt.
Adverse
Marine and coastal biodiversity Seawalls, dykes and tidal barriers Economic and technological High if concrete/rock structures are used; Low-medium if mud walls and vegetation are used Include biodiversity (terrestrial and coastal/marine) considerations in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Marine and coastal biodiversity Bridges to cross potentially inundated areas Economic and technological Medium-high depending on the location Include terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity considerations in EIA
Adverse to Neutral
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Introduction of drought-tolerant varieties Economic, scientific and technological Low if the growing season is not extended;  high if varieties become invasive, or if extending into marginal lands not previously cultivated Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Inland water biodiversity
Introduction of plant varieties tolerant to higher temperatures Economic, scientific and technological High if using more water for growth or if varieties become invasive Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland water biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Introduction of pest-resistant varieties Economic, scientific and technological High risk if varieties become invasive Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Marine and coastal biodiversity Introduction of salt-tolerant varieties of native plants and animals for coastal protection/revegetation Economic, scientific and technological Low Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Inland water biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Diversion of fresh water to areas suffering water shortage (dams or irrigation channels) or increased extraction of groundwater supply Economic, regulatory and technological   Medium-high depending on environmental flow, the rate of withdrawal, etc. Include terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity considerations in EIA
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Introduction of salt tolerant varieties of native biota Economic and scientific High if varieties become invasive Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Inland water biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Construction of buildings on stilts Economic and technological Low if already in urban areas Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Inland water biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Establishment of aquaculture, including mariculture, to compensate for climate-induced losses in food production Economic and technological High if alien, GMO fish or carnivorous fish (due to harvest of wild fish for food) are used; high if harmful chemicals are released Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Adverse to Positive
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity Use of prescribed grazing management regimes Regulatory and scientific High if overgrazing occurs Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Marine and coastal biodiversity Migration of people from coastal areas and/or marginal lands (e.g., in semi-arid areas) Behavioural and individual Low if moving to urban areas, although could place additional pressure on water and energy resources; high if moving to slightly less marginal areas Educate urban planners to minimize the exploitation of natural resources; effect of other migration may be hard to manage
Marine and coastal biodiversity Re-zoning in coastal areas Institutional and regulatory High if high- biodiversity areas are urbanized; low otherwise Strategic environmental assessment should consider the impact on biodiversity and zone accordingly; allow for appropriate conservation areas for biodiversity
Neutral to Positive
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Establishment of protected areas or management for sustainable use Institutional and regulatory Low Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Mountain Biodiversity Establishment of protected areas or management for sustainable use Institutional and regulatory Low Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Positive
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Introduction or extension of multi-cropping or mixed farming systems  (e.g., agroforestry systems) to enhance ecosystem resilience; introduction of new crop/animal species and varieties Economic and scientific Low-medium if replacing an existing crop without extending the cropland; high if the crop/animal becomes an invasive species Assess the potential invasiveness risk of the introduced species; minimize the land under intensive agriculture
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Changes in grazing management Economic Low-Medium   Monitor the effects on biodiversity
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Changes in timing and type of irrigation and fertilizer use Economic, institutional and technological Low if switching to water saving irrigation; medium if introducing irrigation to new areas Monitor for changes and/or examine the possibility of introducing the most appropriate irrigation for the crop and for the fertilizer; timing of fertilizer application can be important in minimizing the risk to biodiversity
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Low-tillage cropping, maintaining cropping residues and reducing fallow periods   Economic, scientific and technological Low if soil erosion is reduced; high if low tillage leads to increased herbicide application Monitor for gains in biodiversity or reduction in erosion and potential water use
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Abandonment of agriculture Economic and regulatory Low if native species colonize; high if non-native or invasive species colonize, or if moderate disturbance (low-intensity grazing) is suppressed Management of the abandoned land may be  necessary to provide maximum benefits to biodiversity
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland water biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems Institutional, regulatory and scientific Low; high if invasive species are used or neighbouring areas are damaged.   Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Establishment of corridors, both horizontal and vertical for mountain ecosystems Institutional, regulatory and scientific Low-Medium if allowing migration of invasive species Monitor the migration of plant and animal species in the corridors and the connected cells of the landscapes, and manage invasive species when detected
Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Reduction of other pressures on biodiversity arising from habitat conversion, over-harvesting, pollution, and alien species invasions Regulatory, scientific and technological Low, but methods may have secondary effects on biodiversity Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management EIA and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on the activities causing the pressures
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity Efficient management of rain water Behavioural and individual and technological Low Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity Forest biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Natural forest regeneration, sustainable forest management / and avoided deforestation Economic, institutional and regulatory Low if natural forest regeneration occurs and sustainable forest management practices are used; high if invasive species colonize Monitoring to assess the gains for biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland water biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Landscape-scale management Institutional, regulatory and scientific Low-very low if aimed at benefiting biodiversity Monitoring would still be necessary to ensure that the goals are being met; need to consider and, if necessary, enact policies to deal with land tenure issues and compensation for reduction in intensity of farming practices
Forest biodiversity Practice of low-intensity forestry Regulatory and scientific Low-medium Monitor for likely effects on biodiversity and include adaptive management
Island biodiversity Islands, particularly small islands, are socially and ecologically vulnerable to climate change. All adaptation activities identified for the thematic areas marine and coastal biodiversity, inland waters, agricultural biodiversity , dry and sub humid land biodiversity, forest biodiversity and mountain biodiversity might also be relevant for island biodiversity but their implementation may need special considerations .

Adaptation Options

This database provides links to scientific studies and other resources on biodiversity-related climate change adaptation. These examples can assist managers and governments to find adaptation options that will not have a negative impact on biodiversity.

For examples of adaptation plans already in place, please see the map of case studies on the following page.

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Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and mitigation - good practice examples and lessons learned from Europe
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 28 Feb 2012
The report documents and analyses good practice examples of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe. ...
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in European Forests – EFI Policy Brief 6
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 21 Apr 2011
The Policy Brief was compiled within the Models for Adaptive Forest Management (MOTIVE) project, a large-scale integrated project in the seventh Framework Programme of the EU. MOTIVE seeks to develop and evaluate strategies that can adapt forest management practices to balance multiple objectives un...
Building Resilience to Climate Change: Ecosystem-based adaptation and lessons from the field
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 20 Apr 2011
This book is one of the main contributions of the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the international discussions on how we should address climate change impacts on natural and human systems, including ecosystems and the serv...
L'adaptation du littoral aux changements climatiques dans le droit français
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 19 Apr 2011
Le phénomène des changements climatiques apparaît alors comme une occasion de tester l'intégration des politiques sectorielles. Une réorganisation réussie des priorités dans un contexte marqué par un degré élevé de risque et d'incertitude devrait attester d'une gestion intégrée des zones côtières (G...
HABIT-CHANGE Project
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 4 Jan 2011
The project "Adaptive Management of Climate-induced Changes of Habitat Diversity in Protected Areas" (HABIT-CHANGE) is implemented within the INTERREG IV B CENTRAL EUROPE programme. The acronym of the project not only stands for the expected habitat changes caused by climate change but also for the ...
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