Jerrican Mann

University of Northern British Columbia
Anthropogenically driven climate change is now recognized to be one of the most serious threats to biodiversity and the conservation thereof. Climate reshuffling, disappearance, and the emergence of novel climates forces species to tolerate climate changes, adapt, or migrate to more climatically favorable environments. Accordingly, the protection of refugia and maintenance or enhancement of connectivity between wilderness areas, climate refugia, and protected areas is necessary to support the shifting of species’ distributions thereby facilitating the natural adaptation of species and communities in response to climate change.

Despite this, conserving planning rarely attempts to incorporate climate change data with the goal of planning for future climate conditions and climate change impacts. With the recent widespread availability of emission scenarios and reliable climate change data, conservation planning is well poised to take advantage of climate change information.

This Living Labs project was undertaken to develop a more advanced climate change conscious approach to systematic conservation planning. The study area chosen was the Peace River Break, a region where industrial expansions have already created an ecogeographical bottleneck, and further expansions further threaten the vital corridors that connect functional landscapes along the north-south extent of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A strategically planned protected areas network in this region would contribute to a continuous network of life-sustaining wildlife habitats linked by functional movement corridors that mitigate the impacts of climate change by facilitating wildlife migrations at coarse spatial scales between Yellowstone National Park and the Yukon Territory.