21, May, 2012

Strengthening Agrobiodiversity: A Key Adaptation Strategy for Latin America’s Mountain Ecosystems

With their high levels of agrobiodiversity, Latin American countries are implementing innovative research programmes and policies to conserve native and wild crop and animal species. Their work is helping to both promote diversity and facilitate climate change adaptation.

Latin America is home to many areas with a high concentration of agrobiodiversity, especially in its mountain ecosystems. Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as droughts and frosts, is reducing agrobiodiversity in mountain regions due to the inability of plants, animals and entire ecosystems to adapt to unprecedented climatic variability. In turn, this is having negative impacts on agricultural production and food security. This Brief begins by describing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and food production in Latin America’s mountainous areas. It then provides examples of how Latin Americans are capitalising on traditional and scientific knowledge to develop locally-appropriate initiatives aimed at strengthening agrobiodiversity and facilitating adaptation.  Finally, this Brief identifies ongoing challenges for Latin America and describes key contextual factors that have facilitated development of climate change adaptation strategies that preserve and promote agrobiodiversity.

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Key Lessons:

  • Preserving and promoting agrobiodiversity is a key climate change adaptation strategy in mountain ecosystems across Latin America where it has improved food security amongst vulnerable populations.
  • Traditional mountain cultures of Latin America provide an essential source of knowledge on local agrobiodiversity and biodiverse farming practices that can facilitate adaptation to climate change.
  • At the same time, due to the unprecedented nature of climatic change impacts in mountain regions across Latin America, scientific research and development has played a key role in generating innovative adaptation strategies to face this challenge.
  • Technical and institutional capacity for integrating agrobiodiversity into climate change adaptation strategies for mountain ecosystems can be built by strengthening information flows and implementing regional programmes.
  • (Español) El fortalecimiento del intercambio de información y la implementación de iniciativas regionales pueden fortalecer la capacidad técnica e institucional para integrar la agrobiodiversidad en las estrategias de adaptación al cambio climático en ecosistemas de montañas.

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