Author: Louisa Heilinger, student at Van Hall Larenstein University, Velp, The Netherlands
While it is widely known that biodiversity and ecosystems provide vital services to society that help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and reduce disaster risk, the co-benefits they can provide in terms of mitigation, support countries to meet mitigation targets under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
Firstly, do many EbA activities sequester carbon, while some even prevent the greenhouse gas emissions that would be emitted from hard infrastructure-based approaches to adaptation.
Ecosystem-based approaches to mitigation, so the use of ecosystems for their carbon storage and sequestration services to aid climate change mitigation, can be achieved through the creation, restoration, and management of different ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, coastal vegetation, and peatlands.
In Peru for example, deforestation is responsible for the release of 50% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country. However, terrestrial and coastal ecosystems are able to store more than five times as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere.
Key examples of climate change mitigation through emission removal include the sustainable management of forests that can store and sequester carbon by improving overall forest health, while they simultaneously sustain functioning ecosystems that provide food, fiber and water resources that people depend on.
While protected areas, for example, are primarily designated for the purpose of biodiversity conservation, they do have additional value in storing and sequestering carbon (about 15% of the terrestrial carbon stock is currently within protected areas (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2009). Effectively expanding and managing protected areas can contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing current and future greenhouse gas emissions and protecting existing carbon stocks while at the same time protecting biodiversity.
An excellent example is a project implemented in the tropical montane forest in the San Martín, Ucayali, Huánuco, and Loreto Departments in Perú, in which a variety of species, biological communities and geological formations were protected. The development of integrated and sustainable management of natural resources was supported, resulting in the protection of more than 1.3 million hectares of forest. The project will reduce more than 17 million tCO2e emissions within the next 10 years. (McBreen, 2016)
Taking an Ecosystem-based approach can be a flexible, cost-effective and broadly applicable approach for adapting, but as shown above, also mitigating the impacts of climate change. Upscaling these efforts and focusing on this important co-benefit of Ecosystem-based approaches offers a great opportunity for combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. (2009). Connecting Biodiversity and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation. Montereal: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
McBreen, J. (2016). Regional Assessment on Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Biodiversity in South America. A report for the Resilience through Investing in Ecosystems - knowledge, innovation and transformation of risk management (RELIEF Kit) project. Quito: International Union for Conservation of Nature.
International Institute for Environment and Development. (2019, April 10). EbA Evidence and Policy: Peru. Retrieved from International Institute for Environment and Development (iied): https://www.iied.org/eba-evidence-policy-peru
FAO. (2019, April 10). Ecosystems Services and Biodiversity. Retrieved from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations : http://www.fao.org/ecosystem-services-biodiversity/background/regulating-services/en/