Context: Considering Local Vulnerability

People and their wellbeing matter whether we’re thinking about trees or human health or roads. When thinking about adaptation to climate change, this rings particularly true; it is essential that people’s needs and contexts are deeply and carefully woven into any scheme to enhance resilience and facilitate adaptation and mitigation. One example of how this has been acknowledged is in the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance’s CCB Standards in REDD carbon offset projects. To receive CCB certification, projects must assess the community context of the project, and ensure that it supports local communities.

Two publications on this subject caught my eye and interest recently. They highlight how imperative it is to assess the vulnerability, livelihoods, and context of communities involved in conservation and Payments for Ecosystem Services programs, using Cameroon and China as case studies.

Local Vulnerability, Forest Communities and Forestcarbon Conservation

International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation and CIFOR, August 2013

The mechanism for reducing carbon emissions through forest conservation is dominating climate policy processes in many tropical forests countries. However, there are concerns about the implications of these activities on forest-dependent communities, who are vulnerable to climatic stresses. Reconciling local vulnerability, adaptive capacity and forests carbon conservation initiatives is necessary but challenging. This study concludes that assessing the vulnerability of livelihood options of communities to both climatic and non climatic stresses is a point of departure to minimize risk on forests carbon conservation schemes.

Full text here.


Performance and Prospects of Payments for Ecosystem Services Programs: Evidence from China

Journal of Environmental Management, August 2013

Systematic evaluation of the environmental and socioeconomic effects of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs is crucial for guiding policy design and implementation. The results suggest that the NFCP was not only significantly associated with increases in forest cover, but also had both positive (e.g., labor reduction for fuelwood collection) and negative (e.g., economic losses due to crop raiding by wildlife) effects on local households. Results from this study emphasize the importance of integrating local conditions and understanding underlying mechanisms to enhance the performance of PES programs. The findings are useful for the design and implementation of successful conservation policies not only in our study area but also in similar places around the world.

Full text here.

On a somewhat related note, the video below (in Spanish) explores the fears of coffee growers in Risaralda, Colombia, where they live in poverty and are operating at a loss. Their anecdotes of the increasing difficulties of growing coffee, specially in warmer areas, add to the ongoing links and posts on this blog about the challenges facing coffee as related to climate change. If coffee growing communities struggle to keep their fincas operating today, it will only get more difficult in the years ahead. This reality highlights the urgent need to assess climate risks and undertake resilience building practices and the consideration of diverse adaptation strategies among coffee and all other agricultural communities.

Taza Amarga



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