Rethinking Biodiversity Conservation in an Era of Climate Change: Evaluating Adaptation in Canada’s Protected Areas
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Protected areas worldwide face significant threats from rapid climatic and associated ecological change. The need to adapt to the impacts of climate change on biodiversity has been widely acknowledged for two decades; however, meaningful and effective adaptation within protected area agencies and organizations remains a widespread challenge. Given realized and projected future climate-induced ecological changes, conservation policy and practice in protected areas needs to be more proactive to adapt to changing climate conditions to preserve biodiversity. In light of this pervasive problem, the purpose of this dissertation is to review and advance climate change adaptation in and across Canada’s protected areas organizations. To do this, I examined the current state of adaptation within Canada’s protected areas organizations (Chapter 2), engaged practitioners working at the protected area site level to identify and evaluate adaptation options (Chapter 3), and examined the adaptation readiness of protected area organizations to identify strengths, challenges, and opportunies for capacity development (Chapter 4). First, a survey was distributed to provincial, territorial, and federal governments as well as environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) working in conservation in Canada (n=49). This survey revealed that little progress on adaptation in Canada’s protected areas sector from 2006 to 2018 has been made despite greater certainty about climate change impacts and climate change being considered pertinent to protected area planning and management (Chapter 2). Second, through a case study at Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park, I found that most adaptation strategies identified by workshop participants were conventional (i.e., historically used and low risk) and direct change (i.e., aid transition towards new states) compared to the other categories (i.e., conventional/resist change, interventionist/direct change, and interventionist/resist change). Conventional strategies had the highest perceived effectiveness and feasibility ratings (Chapter 3). Third, an adaptation readiness assessment found that Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park have moderate overall adaptation readiness with higher readiness in terms of social-ecological systems (e.g., mapping and monitoring values) and lower readiness in terms of knowledge (i.e., knowledge management and exchange) (Chapter 4). The results of this research identified limited progress and numerous barriers to adaptation. However, the potential for progress on adaptation exists if barriers can be overcome. Recommendations to increase adaptation include enhancing knowledge mobilization and partnerships, implementing a national adaptation strategy, having a climate change champion on staff in each park, and developing more flexible conservation objectives. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of progress on adaptation within Canada, the perceived effectiveness and feasibility of adaptation options, and adaptation readiness in a protected areas context. The results of this research can be used by practitioners to advance adaptation in Canadian protected areas organizations to better achieve their long-term conservation goals.
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Stephanie Barr (2020). Rethinking Biodiversity Conservation in an Era of Climate Change: Evaluating Adaptation in Canada’s Protected Areas. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16468