Protect large, intact, natural landscapes and ecological processes

Protecting large areas reduces the potential for community disassembly because it helps to ensure that trophic interactions, disturbance regimes, intra-specific and inter-specific competition, and other large-scale processes can continue to generate and maintain high levels of biodiversity and endemism. This adaptation objective considers the functional roles of species and takes a more dynamic perspective than the previous two adaptation objectives. In addition, many ecological processes are not species-specific. Thus, processes such as fire and flooding, which have a strong biophysical component, also come into play. It also recognizes that species abundance and persistence may not simply be products of available habitat within an ecosystem, but that species may also be integral and active players determining how the ecosystem functions.

Not only are ecosystems defined by their geographic location and spatial extent, they also reflect associated ecosystem services. For example, coastal ecosystems buffer coastlines from flooding and erosion during storm surges and upland forest in watersheds controlling surface runoff and erosion while reserving drinking water quality. Projects that focus on restoration of mangroves and coral reefs, for example, represent the "win-win" natural solutions to climate adaptation that help safeguard vulnerable human communities from storm surges and conserve and restore important ecological communities. The functions of such ecosystems are also maintained by food web interactions. Thus, conserving predators may be important not only to protect species with charismatic value but also to prevent loss of trees needed for watershed protection.

Species and populations

Ecosystem Level

Landscape Level