Understanding and Assessing Impacts
The impacts of climate change such as increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns will affect ecosystems across Canada. For example, in Québec, some species’ habitats are predicted to shift northward by ~45 km with climate change. To conserve ecosystems and promote their adaptation to climate change, maintaining ecological corridors has been identified as a nature-based adaptation strategy. Ecological corridors are natural land or water-based passageways that allow animals to migrate, find food and shelter, reproduce, and adapt to climate change. Protecting and conserving ecological corridors can prevent habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss which is at risk due to climate change and increased urban development. Other co-benefits of conserving ecological corridors include promoting nature as a carbon sink, allowing wildlife to safely cross major transportation routes, preserving a natural safety net that can protect us against climate impacts, and maintaining our overall well-being. To help species adapt to climate change and to prevent biodiversity loss, the “Québec Ecological Corridors Initiative: A Strategy for Adapting to Climate Change” was launched. A map of ecological corridors in Southern Québec, extending east to New Brunswick and south to the USA was created to identify important ecological corridors for the initiative. The map with ecological corridor hotspots was informed by broad and regional scientific studies. For example, the Ouranos CC-Bio project used future climate change projections from the Canadian Regional Climate Model to determine the distribution and abundance of species in Québec under climate change. A collaboration between The Nature Conservancy (US) and the University of Washington also modelled the movement of species in North America using climate change projections to reveal corridors that would be needed by species to adapt to climate change. On a regional and local scale, each partner in the initiative conducted their own studies on ecological corridors and essential connectivity zones to inform the map and key conservation efforts.