The state of climate change adaptation in Canada's protected areas sector
Abstract:Recent suggestions by the World Commission on Protected Areas that conservation actions are likely to fail unless they are adjusted to take account of climate change, emphasize the need for protected areas agencies to begin mainstreaming climate change into policy, planning, and management. This article presents the results of a University of Waterloo and Canadian Council on Ecological Areas survey on the state of climate change adaptation in Canada's protected areas sector, including all federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions. Analysis revealed several important findings. First, three quarters of agencies surveyed reported that climate change impacts were already occurring within their respective protected areas systems. Second, climate change was perceived by 94 percent of respondents to be an issue that will substantially alter protected areas policy and planning over the next 25 years. Third, despite the perceived future importance of climate change, little policy, planning, management, or research response is currently being undertaken by most agencies. Overall, with 91 percent of the agencies conceding that they currently do not have the capacity necessary to respond effectively to climate change, the survey revealed an important gap between the perceived salience of climate change and the capacity of protected areas agencies to adapt. Constraints, such as limited financial resources, limited internal capacity, and lack of understanding of real or anticipated climate change impacts, will need to be overcome if Canada's protected areas agencies are to be able to deliver on their various protected areas‐ and biodiversity‐related mandates, such as the perpetual protection of representative elements of Canada's natural heritage, in an era of rapid climate change.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Centre for Applied Sciences in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA)/Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3), Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo 2: Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA), Cambridge 3: Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo 4: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Publication date: September 1, 2011