EbA is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. EbA aims to maintain and increase the resilience and reduce the vulnerability of people and the ecosystems they rely upon in the face of the adverse effects of climate change. There are various interpretations of EbA, but all share the rationale of working with nature, and most converge on the principle of sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall adaptation strategy.
Healthy and functional ecosystems help reduce climate change vulnerability and disaster risk by:
- Reducing physical exposure to hazards by serving as protective barriers or buffers and so mitigating hazard impacts, including in wetlands, forests and coastal ecosystems; and
- Reducing socioeconomic vulnerability to hazard impacts: In addition to protective and hazard regulatory functions of ecosystems, they also sustain human livelihoods and provide essential goods such as food, fibre, medicines and construction materials, which strengthen people’s resilience to disasters.
Examples of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction include restoring coastal vegetated areas such as mangroves to protect shorelines from storm surges; managing invasive alien species linked to land degradation and that threaten food security and water supplies; and managing ecosystems to complement, protect and extend longevity of investments in hard infrastructure.
In many cases, of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction activities are the same as EbA activities implemented to reduce disaster risk. For example, maintaining and improving the functionality of protection forests is also a key activity within the some countries’ climate protection programmes. Because of the important role of forests in mitigating the risks posed by natural hazards, these programme aim to improve the stability and functionality of forest stand structures, foster adapted species mixtures, promote natural regeneration, prevent forest fires and/or control pests and diseases.