, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 63-102

Adaptive Governance and Climate Change in the Tropical Highlands of Western South America

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Abstract

Climate changes occurring during the past several decades in the high elevations of the tropical Andes Mountains have implications for the native plant and animal species, for the ecological integrity of the affected land cover, and for the human-biophysical systems involved. Consequences are also probable for rural inhabitants and their livelihoods, especially for farmers and pastoralists. Biophysical factors have always changed in these mountainous zones; the extent and degree of alteration acting on native and agricultural biodiversity is the concern. Addressing these climate changes is probably within the adaptive capacity of many local land-use systems, unless external socioeconomic or political forces are unsupportive or antagonistic. Suitable programs to provide information, subsidies, or alternatives could be designed. We highlight some of the inherent resiliencies of natural and cultural systems in the Andes and suggest that these systems contain lessons that could be useful elsewhere, in terms of the traits that allow for the sustainable utilization of dynamic and heterogeneous landscapes.