Skip to main content

Intact ecosystems are essential for human well-being. Among other benefits they provide the foundation for fertile soil, for the production of food and clean water, enable climate regulations and mitigate extreme weather events. Engaging ecosystem-based adaption (EbA) to face the climate crisis means maintaining necessary ecosystem services for humans despite climate change and mitigating its fatal consequences in the long run.

Climate crisis: humans must adapt

The climate has always affected the human way of living. For instance, it defines how people dress, how they build their houses, and what kind of food can be used. In many different ways, people have always adapted to climatic conditions. However, new and more rapid solutions of adaptation are necessary, in order to handle the current climatic changes caused by humans. The disastrous consequences ask for swift and concrete action on climate protection und adaptation to climate change. Hence, innovative strategies must be developed, that can be transferred, adapted and applied easily and by this, enable living despite the impacts of climate change. Given the scale, complexity, unpredictability and time pressure, this task seems to be unsolvable.

Nature as a partner – using ecosystem services sustainably

However, one possible answer is much simpler than one thinks. Our strongest ally in the climate crisis is nature itself. We need to work for and with nature instead of against it. In the field, this nature-related approach, directed at human adaptation to climate change, is called “ecosystem-based adaptation”.

The aim is to help people adapt to the current and future negative impacts of climate change by using biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of a comprehensive adaptation strategy.

The diverse measures embrace the conservation, the restoration and the sustainable use of ecosystems, in order to increase the resilience to the consequences of climate change. In concrete terms, this can include

  • Reforestation
  • Soil improvement
  • Agroforestry systems or
  • Agriculturally adapted production techniques.

In the long term, intact ecosystems reduce the impact of extreme weather events and enable the preservation of nature's diverse services, such as water and climate regulation, air pollution control and food production.

From grey to colourful

So far, conventional measures, also known as grey infrastructure, have been used to counter the effects of climate change. Grey infrastructure includes breakwaters and dams against floods, or air conditioning against heat waves. In contrast to grey measures, most ecosystem-based adaptations are more cost-effective, longer-lasting and have multiple co-benefits. Infrastructure measures, such as afforestation, urban greening and ecosystem connectivity, protect the climate, act as carbon reservoirs and contribute to biodiversity conservation. They also have a high aesthetic value, serve as recreational spaces and thus promote the health and well-being of the population.

There are already numerous projects around the world that contribute significantly to improving the resilience of habitats in a wide variety of ways. One of them is the GreenWatersheds project, which has been developed and managed by OroVerde in cooperation with local partner organisations since 2018. Using an integrative and cross-sectoral approach, it develops ecosystem-based adaptation measures and innovative financing mechanisms in watersheds. The project is implemented in four protected areas in Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, making an important contribution to the conservation of forests and unique biodiversity.

In 2019, a second project called Resilient Caribbean Communities started, based on the ecosystem-based adaptation approach. The project, in collaboration with Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and local partners, will develop ecosystem-based solutions to help make the Caribbean Biological Corridor a regional model for improving climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation. Building on strategic planning, measures are implemented with nature as the solution in the areas of integrated water management and agriculture.

Do you have any questions?

We are here to help!
OroVerde - Tropical Forest Foundation
Phone: +49 228 24290-0
E-Mail: info(at)

Photo credits: OroVerde, Torsten Klimpel (Header), OroVerde / A.Fischer, Illu: Özi`s Comix Studio // CC BY-ND (Graphic)