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Harnessing nature to help people adapt to climate change

Nature Climate Change volume 2, pages 504509 (2012) | Download Citation


Adapting to climate change is among the biggest challenges humanity faces in the next century. An overwhelming focus of adaptation strategies to reduce climate change-related hazards has been on hard-engineering structures such as sea walls, irrigation infrastructure and dams. Closer attention to a broader spectrum of adaptation options is urgently needed. In particular, ecosystem-based adaptation approaches provide flexible, cost-effective and broadly applicable alternatives for buffering the impacts of climate change, while overcoming many drawbacks of hard infrastructure. As such, they are a critical tool at adaptation planners' disposal for tackling the threats that climate change poses to peoples' lives and livelihoods.

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We thank B. Nickel for GIS support and the Zavaleta lab, and R. Naylor for comments that improved this manuscript.

Author information


  1. University of California, Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies Department, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA

    • Holly P. Jones
    •  & Erika S. Zavaleta
  2. Science and Knowledge Division, Conservation International, 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, Virginia 22202, USA

    • David G. Hole


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Correspondence to Holly P. Jones or David G. Hole.

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