Encouraging Climate Change Adaptation through Payment for Environmental Services: Case Studies in the Pacific Region of Costa Rica
Smith, Carolyn Elizabeth
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During the last decade, climate change has prolonged droughts and increased rainfall intensity, which has resulted in an increase in the number of flash floods and tropical storms. These events are affecting Costa Rica’s agriculture sector and are impacting the country’s food security. The main objective of this study was to evaluate farmers' local knowledge and perceptions about climate change and determine the impacts of the payment for environmental services (PES) programme on assisting farmers to integrate information and use innovative technologies to adapt to climate change. Research indicates that although climate change is affecting Costa Rican agriculture, there are adaptation strategies to help alleviate the negative impacts. Farmers in two geographical areas were interviewed to evaluate their integration of climate change information into land management practices. The two areas were Esparza, in the northern part of the province of Puntarenas, and Durika, in southern Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Farmers interviewed in Esparza were chosen based on their involvement in a PES project developed by Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigacíón y Enseñanza (CATIE). Farmers in Durika were chosen because they practice sustainable agricultural techniques that more formally integrate climate change information. Results showed that the PES project was a successful approach to encourage farmers to adapt to climate change. Farmers in Durika and Esparza mentioned the importance of financial incentives combined with improved knowledge and understanding of climate change to encourage adaptation. Important adaptation strategies implemented in Esparza included the use of agroforestry, Brachiaria spp. grasses, water conservation and protection, and supplements. Based on the success of CATIE’s project combined with comments made from farmers in Durika, recommendations are made to improve this project and extend information into the rest of the country.