Albertine Rift and Madagascar: Priority Regions in Africa for Climate Adaptation Funding

The Albertine Rift and Madagascar have been identified as priority regions in Africa where targeted funding for building resiliency and adapting to the impacts of climate change would provide the greatest benefits to both people and the natural ecosystems that support life on Earth. This according to a new study investigating the impacts of climate change and adaptation priorities for biodiversity and food security, which identified ten global priority regions for targeted funding. The other priority regions identified include  the Andes, Central America, Caribbean and Java.


Albertine Rift

Photo: Adam Cohn via Flickr


The regions identified in the study are areas where small-scale farmers will be most affected by climate change and where Biodiversity Hotspots are also located. Priorities that link ecosystems and food production are important because human and natural responses to climate change are interconnected. Ecosystem based adaptation, which aims to ensure intact and properly functioning ecosystems which provide a range of ecosystem services and adaptation options, aims to also understand the linkages across sectors to fully comprehend the benefits of this type of adaptation to climate change.

According to the study, the ten priority regions with the greatest potential benefits to humanity include:
  • Central America – Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua (Hotspots: Mesoamerica; Madrean pine-oak woodlands)
  • Caribbean – Jamaica, Haiti, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela (Hotspots: Caribbean Islands)
  • Andes (South America) – Argentina​, Bolivia,Colombia, Ecuador, Peru  (Hotspots: , Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena / Tropical Andes)
  • Guiana Highlands – Venezuela (Hotspot: Tropical Andes)
  • Atlantic Coast of Brazil (South America) – Brazil (Hotspot: Atlantic Forest)
  • Albertine Rift – Democratic Repiblic of the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda (Hotspot: Eastern Afromontane)
  • Madagascar – Madagascar (Hotspot: Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands)
  • Ghats – India (Hotspots: Western Ghats, Sri Lanka)
  • Philippines – Philippines (Hotspot: Philippines)
  • Java – Indonesia (Hotspot: Wallacea)
The study “Global Climate Change Adaptation Priorities for Biodiversity and Food Security” was published in the journal PLOS ONE and represents the first global study to combine assessments of the impacts of climate change on both agriculture and biodiversity, in order to identify joint priorities.


Woman planting crops, Madagascar

Woman planting crops. Madagascar. Photo: Yosef Hadar / World Bank via Flickr.


Researchers at Conservation International and BirdLife International undertook research for the study, which was carried out in partnership with researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Kansas, Seoul National University and Lincoln University of New Zealand.  Lead author and Senior Climate Scientist at Conservation International, Lee Hannah, said: “This research shows that the futures of poor farmers and wildlife are intertwined in many regions.”
The research used modeling of crops important to smallholder farmers, such as corn and beans, and models of bird responses to climate change to identify areas in which change was high in both crop and habitat suitability. It  also used bird species with restricted ranges as a surrogate for wildlife more generally, because birds are much better known than other comparable groups of species.
“Natural ecosystems support farmers in many different ways, such as through sustaining pollinators and pest-controlling species, while farmers’ responses to climate change will often have consequences for species and ecosystems,” said Dr Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at BirdLife International and a co-author of the study. “Our results identify some of the highest priority areas to invest in joint solutions that simultaneously address the human and ecosystem dimensions of climate change.”
The ten regions identified all intersect with global Biodiversity Hotspots and cover 13-percent of currently cultivated land in the tropics and 7-9-percent of the world’s population living in poverty. These priority regions have high likely return on climate adaptation investments in both poverty reduction and conservation.


Rice cultivation madagascar

Photo: Ralph Kränzlein via Flickr.


The researchers also identified an additional seven regional priority areas that, while apparently less important at a global scale, may still be critical targets for regional conservation scientists, policy and decision-makers.
Regional Priorities for joint adaptation for people and wildlife:
  • West Africa – Ivory Coast (Hotspot: Guinean Forest of West Africa)
  • Cross River – Cameroon, Nigeria (Hotspot: Guinean Forest of West Africa)
  • Western Himalaya – Pakistan (Hotspot: Himalaya)
  • Eastern Himalaya – India, Myanmar, Bhutan (Hotspot: Himalaya)
  • Northwest Mexico – Mexico (Hotspot: Mesoamerica; Madrea pine-oak woodlands)
  • Sulawesi – Indonesia (Hotspot: Wallacea)
  • New Guinea – Papua New Guinea, Indonesia (Hotspots: Sundaland and Wallacea)

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