Living Lab for Climate Change and Conservation

Background

The global climate is changing, and the impacts of this shift can be seen in many parts of British Columbia. Climate Change will continue for decades and even centuries, regardless of the world’s efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions. To have healthy ecosystems, societies and economies, we need to be resilient.

Climate resilience means being able to survive and prosper as the climate changes. A key part of climate resilience is being able to adapt. Actions that support natural resilience and adaptation to climate change will create the best opportunities for species and ecosystems, infrastructure, and human communities to continue to exist. For species and ecosystems, climate resilience includes supporting the movement of species and their survival between protected areas through things like habitat restoration, or by linking protected areas together.  Resiliency also means ensuring all of B.C.’s ecosystems are well represented in our protected area network. To adapt well, we need good information for making decisions about what to do.

Mission

The mission of the Living Lab Program is to encourage climate change research in protected areas that documents changes in BC’s natural world, and that guides how to manage parks for an uncertain future.

Purpose

The Living Lab Program promotes B.C.’s protected areas as places to learn about the effects of climate change, how to mitigate (lessen) the effects, and how to share this information. The program encourages research in protected areas through partnerships with academic institutions and their collaborative work with the broader conservation community. The program encourages research in protected areas. B.C.’s protected areas are less developed than much of the rest of the province, so parks can help us understand how undeveloped ecosystems react to climate change. Research in parks can also tell us how land and water connectivity between parks will make a difference for species as the climate changes. This kind of information will help when making decisions on what actions to take both inside and outside parks.

Living Lab Program Goals

The Living Lab Program has four goals. Below each goal is a list of actions to help meet that goal.

Goal 1: Focus on Connectivity and Biodiversity

  • Find out if key parks are vulnerable to climate change.
  • Use climate change information in all decisions about protected areas.
  • Learn more about parks in a changing climate to restore connectivity and biodiversity.
  • Decide how to balance more park visitors with climate change effects on biodiversity and conservation.

Goal 2: Strengthen Ecological Monitoring in B.C. as it relates to Climate Change

  • Finish establishing ongoing BC Parks’ Long-Term Ecological Monitoring (LTEM) network.
  • Finish designing tools to collect LTEM data and train staff to use them.
  • Support BC Parks regions and other participants as they deliver the LTEM program.
  • Analyze and share LTEM data with a focus on improving data collection and park management.
  • Understand, coordinate and make accessible other existing ecological monitoring programs in the province to support protected areas management.

Goal 3: Put Research into Practice

  • Get a clear understanding of BC Parks’ goals and provincial goals for acquiring new protected land and water and for managing key areas that enhance climate resilience in B.C.
  • Provide climate information to BC Parks managers and planners to help them make decisions and plans.
  • Share research outcomes with the public and BC Parks staff.
  • Communicate with the public and staff about the role of protected areas in climate resilience.