Between 2011 and 2012, a province-wide assessment of climate change-related risks and opportunities evaluated the potential impacts of climate change on agricultural production and the sector’s capacity to adapt. The assessment made evident that due to British Columbia’s diversity (with respect to agriculture, ecology and climate), a regional approach to climate change adaptation is required. Building on these findings, in 2012–2013 a pilot project was initiated with agricultural producers, agricultural organizations and local governments in Delta and the Peace River and Cowichan Valley regions. Each planning process resulted in a distinctive set of local sector impacts and priorities, as well as a series of strategies and actions for adapting and strengthening resilience. In 2013–2014, following completion of the pilot, the Regional Adaptation Program was launched. The Program is delivered by the Climate & Agriculture Initiative BC (CAI). The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) assisted in the production of the agriculturally relevant regional climate projections for the 2020s, 2050’s and 2080s that are presented in each regional plan. Some of the overall impacts of climate change for BC agriculture have been identified as follows:
- More frequent occurrence and severity of summer drought;
- Water shortages in more regions;
- Decreased snowfall in alpine areas leading to reduced snowpack and water shortages;
- Increased precipitation (frequently through more extreme events) and subsequent vulnerability to flooding, erosion and nutrient loss;
- More frequent and intense extreme weather events (windstorms, forest fires, hail, droughts and floods);
- Increase in growing degree days (heat units) and a longer frost free season, leading to a potential for broader range of viable crops in some regions; nad
- Increase in pest and disease pressure due to winter survival.