Velocity of climate change can inform protected areas planning and biodiversity conservation in Ontario CCRR51


Climate change is a major threat to the integrity of Earths ecosystems. Protected areas such as parks and conservation reserves are established to preserve the diversity of natural features and to protect against anthropogenic stressors, which in the 21st century includes climate change. Assessing the buffering capacity and resilience of these protected places has become a high priority as environmental conditions and species ranges shift in response to a changing climate. The velocity of climate change (VoCC), defined as the instantaneous pace (kmyr-1) of climate change, is a versatile tool to quantify how climate is changing in space and time. Here, we discuss how two metrics associated with VoCC, exposure and climate residence time, can be used to 1) inform the selection of new protected areas, 2) guide management planning in existing areas, and 3) identify potential refugia in protected areas. In Ontario, ecodistricts are the first spatial unit for selecting protected areas. Using the Bancroft Ecodistrict, specifically the Moira River area and surrounding Crown lands, we illustrate how velocity of climate change can be used with Ontarios existing gap analysis tool to select potential sites for new protected areas. Expectations are that new or existing protected areas in ecodistricts with low exposure to climate change are less likely to be affected than those in ecodistricts with high exposure. In high exposure ecodistricts, management planning for existing protected areas should include climate change adaptation actions. We also demonstrate how exposure can be used to determine the vulnerability to climate change of brook trout lakes in Algonquin Provincial Park. Relative climate residence times were calculated for several northern Ontario parks to demonstrate that large protected areas with complex topographies may offer microclimates and refugia that buffer the effects of climate change. Knowing the pace of climate change in new and existing protected areas will improve the management planning process and inform broader biodiversity conservation efforts.

Published Date: November 2019
Publisher: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Author: L.F.G. Gutowsky and C. Chu, Aquatic Research and Monitoring Section


Velocity of climate change can inform protected areas planning and biodiversity conservation in Ontario CCRR51
ISBN: 978-1-4868-3975-9   (PDF) 5.24 MB