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What Is Parks Canada Doing About Climate Change?

Picture of wetlands surrounding La Have river
Research will help Kouchibouguac National Park managers identify key habitat areas to protect.
© Parks Canada / Dwyer, M. /, 3/30/1970

Despite the information we have now, current climate change models have limited ability to precisely predict future ecological conditions in our national parks. Parks Canada is, therefore, working to fill the information gaps. This includes developing climate change scenarios for each geographic region of the country and every national park. The Agency has also included climate changes indicators in monitoring the ecological integrity of the park system.

How will our coastal parks adapt to a rising sea level?

One Parks Canada research project focuses on Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada. There, researchers are studying how wildlife habitat and park infrastructure are reacting to the effects of climate change and sea-level rise. Using aerial photos, surveys and fieldwork, the team can see how the coastal zone has changed over the past few decades and what areas might need more protection in the future. This research will help park managers identify key habitat areas to protect and to build infrastructure to withstand the impacts of a changing climate.

From the scenarios and monitoring, biologists can predict the impacts on plant and animal communities. Park managers can take measures to adapt to the inevitable changes.

It is increasingly important for Parks Canada to look beyond park boundaries to address climate change. Thus, the Agency plans to strengthen collaboration with other landowners and agencies to conserve the broader landscapes and seascapes in which parks are located. Coordinated management will be essential, given the expected geographic shifts among species and biomes.

Parks Canada is also working to reduce the GHG impacts of its operations and activities. This includes:

  • Reducing the size, fuel consumption and GHG emissions of its passenger cars and light trucks;
  • Improving the energy-efficiency of its buildings and facilities; and
  • Increasing the use of renewable energy technologies.
Photo of solar panels at Saint Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada
St. Lawrence Islands National Park headquarters now has its own solar power system. The recent photovoltaic installation is one of the largest such solar power systems in Eastern Ontario. It will keep the lights on at one of the park's administration buildings.
© Parks Canada
Climate Change and the Ecological Integrity of Garry Oak Ecosystems

The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada in British Columbia includes Garry oak (Quercus garryana) ecosystems. These are some of the most endangered habitats in Canada. They are home to 91 species at risk of extinction. Climate change is a great concern. Parks Canada is engaged in a research project with researchers from the University of Guelph, Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and Environment Canada. The study objectives include:
  • Determining the role of climate change in the Garry oak and surrounding ecosystems in southwest British Columbia and the national nark reserve;
  • Developing park management scenarios based on different land management regimes under a future climate; and
  • Determining if the national park reserve will sufficiently protect ecosystem processes in a warmer climate.
The study applies innovative tools that tie ecological methods, such as dendroecology and palynology, with state-of-the-art techniques such as remote sensing, geographic information systems, ecological and climate modeling.
Photo of Garry oak ecosystem
In Canada, Garry oak ecosystems are found only in British Columbia. Climate change is a great concern here as it may impact on more than the 90 species that have been designated at risk in this rare ecosystem.
© Parks Canada