Research Themes and Priority Projects

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 BC’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 BC’s protected area system is also critical to ensuring ecological climate resilience for the province.
Examples of priority projects:

  • 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;

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:

  • Complete a protected areas vulnerability assessment at a regional scale or a subset of parks. 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;
  • 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;
  • Species at risk habitat mapping work to increase understanding of changing habitat character and quality in the eastern mountains (Wells Gray, Cariboo Mountains, and Bowron Lake Provincial Parks) and the Chilcotin (Tweedsmuir and Itcha-Ilgachuz Provincial Parks).

Theme 3. 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;
  • Identify best practices for building shoreline resilience to sea level rise within protected areas;
  • Support application of the Climate Change Adaptation Framework for Parks and Protected Areas in a provincial park(s) or protected area(s);
  • Identify opportunities for federal, provincial, and First Nations coordination for protection of marine and coastal biodiversity in light of climate change effects;
  • Investigate the impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems, particularly the intertidal zone (e.g., changing risks of red tide or productivity of harvestable species).