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.
In 2017, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) along with 9 partner organizations proposed the Quebec Ecological Corridors Initiative in Southern Québec as a nature-based adaptation strategy. Climate change is posing a major risk to species, their habitats, and overall biodiversity across Canada. To help species adapt to climate change, 10 organizations in Québec led by the NCC are working towards protecting and conserving ecological corridors. Ecological corridors are land or water-based passageways that connect natural areas or habitats to meet the various ecological needs of plants and animals including adapting to climate change. In addition, ecological corridors are important carbon sinks, they can act as a safety net against climate change impacts like flooding or extreme heat, and they promote our overall well-being. Several scientific studies involving climate models and future scenarios were used to inform a map depicting significant connectivity zones and ecological corridors in Québec. Using funding from the Government of Québec, the Woodcock Foundation, Fondation de la faune du Québec, and the Echo Foundation, NCC and partnering organizations implemented Phase 1 (2017-2021) of the initiative to engage and mobilize local municipalities, forestry stakeholders, and the public. The objective was to create a collective approach to protect and conserve ecological corridors in Southern Québec through educational workshops, activities, meetings, online outreach, training, and written guidelines. Phase 2 (2021-2024) is underway with NCC and partnering organizations continuing to engage municipalities, forestry stakeholders, and the public as well as new partnerships with the agriculture industry and watershed groups. The initiative is continuing to promote knowledge and practical tools for conserving ecological corridors in Québec with intentions to expand the total area of protected and conserved land to strengthen climate change adaptation.