Creating Climate Resilient Agricultural Communities in the Tropics Through Natural Climate Solutions

This project involves collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences and is funded by the UW Population Health Initiative

Natural climate solutions (NCS) are land stewardship practices that can contribute to climate change mitigation and provide ecosystem services essential for addressing all three pillars of population health threatened by climate change. In this project, we focus on quantifying how NCS can help communities residing near tropical forests adapt to the health and resilience challenges of a changing environment. It is well-known that tropical forests sequester more carbon than any other habitat, but less well-known is that tropical deforestation events can immediately and substantially increase local temperatures. Because current climatic conditions in many tropical countries already approach levels that may be unsafe for humans, deforestation is an imminent threat to human health and resilience. Yet, in many tropical areas, deforestation continues to accelerate. Despite the potential benefits of NCS, decision-makers still lack information on how much and where NCS can best address climate, health, and resilience goals. This project will examine how potential future climate and land use scenarios (i.e., deforestation patterns) affect heat exposure, health, and productivity in agricultural communities in industrializing tropical countries. The ultimate goal is to identify NCS portfolios that maximize community resilience and capacity. We propose a new inter-disciplinary team of atmospheric sciences, public health, and economics experts from the UW and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to implement this effort. We will leverage TNCís policy community ties to integrate project results into climate change mitigation and adaptation decision-making processes. This project has the potential for future funding and transferability to other areas of the world.