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Adjusting to climate change in the Caribbean

News from 2016-12-14 / KfW Development Bank

Germany is promoting mangrove reforestation and the preservation of coral reefs

Mangrove forests are being replanted and coral reefs conserved in ten Caribbean island nations in order to protect the coast against flooding and erosion. KfW is promoting these measures on behalf of the German Ministry for the Environment with EUR 25 million. It thus makes a contribution to maintaining the diversity of species that lies at the centre of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently being held in Mexico until mid-December.

The Caribbean ranks amongst those regions of the world that suffer most from the consequences of climate change and extreme weather events. Hurricanes and storm surges are threatening its coasts. The impact of these natural events has become all the greater the more the coasts are already suffering from erosion and deforestation. The expected rise in sea levels and growing acidification of the seawater are also threatening the ecosystems of the Caribbean island nations. The state of 70 percent of local coasts is already deteriorating rapidly.

As part of Germany's International Climate Initiative (IKI) KfW has thus put forward a project to protect the coasts in the Caribbean, which is now being implemented on behalf of the German Ministry for the Environment (BMUB). The BMUB has made available EUR 25 million for the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund, which will finance numerous individual projects in presumably ten Caribbean island nations. One common feature of the individual projects is that they all protect or restore the ecosystems, making them more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Measures include the planting of mangrove forests whose extensive, branching root system protects the coasts against erosion. In addition, coral reefs are revived as the reefs which lie just off the shore serve as an effective breakwater during storm surges. Moreover, the forests and reefs form the habitat of numerous animal and plant species, including many unique to the locality. The Caribbean is a hot spot of species diversity, one of the few in the world. Ten percent of coral reefs worldwide are in the Caribbean, home to 1,400 different species of fish and sea mammals.

Biological diversity is also important for the local economy, which centres on fishing and tourism. Intact ecosystems ensure employment and income. In the Caribbean, tourism generates an income of around USD 25 billion every year and provides employment to around six million people in the area.

Coral reefs
Intact coral reefs protect the sea coasts in the Caribbean against erosion.

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