Reducing vulnerability to climate change in Northern B.C.


Over the past 100 years, temperatures in Northern B.C. have increased by nearly three times the global average, and local First Nations communities are seeing big changes as a result of climate change. Wildlife such as caribou and elk are no longer found in some nations’ traditional hunting grounds, temperatures in rivers and lakes are rising and changing traditional fishing areas, berries and medicinal plants are being lost, and places of refuge for some communities may no longer be safe.

In the next 50 years, temperatures in Northern B.C. are expected to increase by up to 6 degrees, and the growing impacts of climate change will have significant effects on local communities. The ability for First Nations to maintain traditional values and practices, remain healthy, and ensure economic well-being are dependent on understanding climate change and on learning how to prepare for and adapt to these changes.

Developing a community-based approach to climate change planning

Adaptation planning for climate change is a process by which communities can become better prepared for dealing with the effects of climate change. Recently, CPAWS-BC partnered with Takla Lake First Nation (TLFN) in the northern interior of B.C. to complete a climate change vulnerability and risk assessment for their territory, and to incorporate targeted adaptive strategies into their ongoing land use planning process.

Watch Planning for change: a community-based approach to reducing climate change vulnerability in Northern British Columbia

Following up on this work with the TLFN, we created a guide for communities to use in following a step-by-step process for climate change adaptation planning, called Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change: A Toolkit for Communities. This process provides communities with tools to take a proactive approach to planning for the local impacts of climate change including:

  • Assessing the local effects of climate change;
  • Determining how to best minimize the negative effects of changing environmental conditions; and
  • Taking advantage of emerging opportunities offered by a changing landscape.

This process supports communities in determining their own trajectory in the face of an uncertain climate future. Different communities will have their own unique set of circumstances and will experience climate change in different ways, so we have designed this toolkit to serve as a guide in creating a customized approach to dealing with climate change. Throughout the various stages, community values and traditional knowledge is maintained as a core aspect upon which other work is based.

The toolkit is intended to evolve over time, incorporating lessons learned through its application, and additional resources that become available. We hope that users will provide us with feedback as they progress through the process of adaptation planning, in order to streamline and improve the process for future users.

Special thanks to the Real Estate Foundation and Wilburforce Foundation for supporting CPAWS-BC's climate change adaptation work in Northern B.C.