In southern Ontario, climate models tell us we can expect hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters in our future. Low water levels, such as those that occurred between 1999 and 2001, are expected to occur more often. Extreme weather events such as floods, snowstorms, wind storms, drought and fire are likely to become more common.
These changes are likely to have some impacts on our natural areas. Some species may be successful at adapting to the changes – others may not. As plant or wildlife species move (or migrate) in response to the changing climate, they may cross protected area boundaries and have limited places to go. Existing connections between protected areas may no longer be wide enough to allow large scale species movement from the south to replace species being lost.
We need to adapt to ensure that we continue to benefit from the many ecosystem services that biodiversity (the variety of species, genes, and interactions in nature) and natural areas provide. Here are a few proactive measures that are being addressed by Credit Valley Conservation:
- Gather and use knowledge in support of informed decision making on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, natural features and functions
- Build partnerships to ensure a coordinated agency response to climate change
- Incorporate current science on climate change into Natural Heritage Systems planning at multiple scales within CVC including watershed, subwatershed, and site scale
- Measure, monitor and report on indicators of climate change in our natural areas, apply adaptive environmental management, and enhance protection and stewardship efforts;
- Identify and enhance protection efforts for species or communities most at risk from climate change;
- Conserve genetic diversity by protecting a variety of habitats and species;
- Increase wetland protection and restoration efforts and the quality and quantity of streamside plantings to moderate flooding events; and
- Enhance urban natural spaces and plant more neighbourhood trees to moderate the effect of extreme heat days in cities.