An inevitable consequence of global climate change is that altered patterns of temperature and precipitation threaten agriculture in many tropical regions, requiring strategies of human adaptation. Moreover, the process of management intensification in agriculture has increased and may exacerbate vulnerability to climate extremes. Although many solutions have been presented, the role of simple agroecological and agroforestry management has been largely ignored. Some recent literature has shown how sustainable management may improve agroecological resistance to extreme climate events. We comment specifically on a prevalent form of agriculture throughout Latin America, the coffee agroforestry system. Results from the coffee literature have shown that shade management in coffee systems may mitigate the effects of extreme temperature and precipitation, thereby reducing the ecological and economic vulnerability of many rural farmers. We conclude that more traditional forms of agriculture can offer greater potential for adapting to changing conditions than do current intensive systems.
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Vol. 58 • No. 9