Research Themes

Theme 1. Identify priority lands for enhancing protected area connectivity

Projects in this category will support the identification of future refugia and connectivity pathways for key species across B.C.’s land base. Future habitat corridors may already exist in our protected area system and warrant additional management attention. Alternatively, mapping the connectivity corridors and future refugia for key species among and between B.C.’s protected area system is also critical to ensuring ecological climate resilience for the province.
Examples of priority projects:

  • Map provincial priorities for ecosystem connectivity, within or in the context of the protected areas system, at local or regional scales;
  • Develop and evaluate systems and approaches for improving ecosystem connectivity between or within protected areas;
  • Improve tools and cooperative approaches for multi-stakeholder environments to benefit from landscape connectivity in a manner that will benefit BC’s protected areas system;
  • Conduct MARXAN planning exercise reflecting conservation priorities taking into account changes in habitat availability and presence of refugia; identify conservation gaps.

Theme 2. Assess key vulnerabilities in the park system

Projects in this category will support the management of key vulnerabilities to climate change within the protected area system. While protected areas buffer against climate change impacts in providing refuges for ecosystem recovery and for preserving systems that are sensitive to disturbance, they are vulnerable to climate change too. Protected areas are established with fixed boundaries but contain species, communities and ecosystems that can shift spatially in response to climate change.
Examples of priority projects:

  • Develop a tool/approach/methodology for BC Parks to assess the climate vulnerability at park and/or regional scales;
  • Complete a vulnerability assessment at a regional scale for BC Parks’ West Coast Region. Include consideration of impacts to ecological, cultural and recreational values, as well as the potential socio-economic factors such as impacts to facilities and/or spin-off effects for local communities. Make recommendations at this regional scale, including where to focus efforts for park-specific vulnerability assessments;
  • Conduct watershed/hydrological analysis of activities upstream of protected areas to reflect the implications of a changing climate;
  • Model the effect of changing winter conditions on recreational use and the economic-viability of facilities in provincial parks with high levels of winter use, such as Garibaldi, Cypress, and or Mount Seymour provincial parks;
  • Explore the impacts of increased fire activity, floods or other severe weather events on facility maintenance and public safety planning;
  • Improve our understanding of climate related impacts and how they will influence the effectiveness of the park system to protect key species and ecosystems such as old growth forests
  • Assess multiple stressor effects and interactions on key species/ecosystems in the context of the protected areas system.

Theme 3. Develop climate change adaptation and mitigation operational policies and best practices for protected areas

Projects in this category will support changes to operational management of BC Parks that are consistent with a response to a changing climate. Site-specific challenges such as building shoreline resistance require practical policies and best practices.
Examples of priority projects:

  • Develop guidance for alluvial fan protected areas (e.g., Tsútswecw and Shuswap Lake Provincial Parks), such as how to mitigate high water events and support off channel fish spawning and rearing habitat;
  • Work with First Nations to improve our understanding of effective management responses to impacts on indigenous cultural values in protected areas (e.g., significant sites, traditional uses, etc.)
  • Identify best practices for building shoreline resilience to sea level rise within protected areas;
  • Develop better tools to do rapid climate change risk assessments for conservation values in protected areas;
  • Develop best practices for integrated land-sea management, especially in light of upcoming marine protected areas strategy;
  • Develop a strategy to ensure coordination between First Nations, provincial and federal governments on marine protected area management, regulation, and enforcement.