Where To Work - Climate Adaptive Planning for BC


Climate Adaptive Planning for British Columbia (CAP-BC) is an online, open-access web-tool to provide climate–adapted systematic conservation planning to partnerships, government, NGO, private institutions and individuals in BC. CAP-BC provides a means of adapting our conservation plans to the projected impacts of climate change, thereby ensuring that our protected lands are as resilient as possible moving forward and providing a tool to our partners that promote the development of a network of protected areas in BC that is adaptive to future climate change

Current protected areas for BC
Current protected lands cover 11.5% of B.C.'s land base (excluding waters and marine areas). Source: BC Data Catalogue https://catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/


The impacts of climate change are already being felt in British Columbia [1, 2]. These impacts are projected to diversify and intensify over this century, which poses an unprecedented threat to our socio-economic systems and natural environment [3, 4]. There is an urgent need for solutions- focused research on how to adapt business-as-usual practices to minimize our vulnerability to such risks, particularly as they affect biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and ‘at risk’ Species.

We address in partnership with The Nature Trust of British Columbia, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and BC Parks Foundatio, the core question of the project:

  • "How can we adapt our conservation plans in BC to minimize the impacts of a changing climate?"
Anomaly temperature for 2071-2100
Mean annual temperature change for BC, Ensemble Emission SSP3-7.0 Scenario for 2071-2100. Source: Climate data from AdaptWest Project and IPCC.


CAP-BC is a flexible systematic conservation planning web-tool, can provide a set of outcomes to support decisions of adapting our conservation plans to the projected impacts of climate change, thereby ensuring that our protected lands are as resilient as possible moving forward.

The web-tool is ready-to-use, preloaded with data and grouped into six major conservation approaches focused on climate change (see Framework) with an additional group for ecosystem services, cost and constraint layers. The web-tool gives users the flexibility to set particular targets for groups or for each layer, lock-in or weighting with specific layers, giving to them the flexibility to generate conservation solutions from a climate change perspective based on their needs.


Nowadays there are many conservation strategies in addition to the approaches that include climate change adaptations, most of them with different ways for conservation and biodiversity management [7], this variety of strategies tends to cause confusion and difficulty for decision-makers to determining if they are complementary, competing, or contradictory options in conservation planning [6].

Yale Framework was created with the idea to understand, organize and structure the different conservation strategies into major objectives, providing coherence for planning and conservation actions to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into the context of natural resource planning and policymaking [6].

Yale 1-3

The first three approaches are the classic conservation strategies that most of the approaches have used and currently use: (1) Protect current patterns of biodiversity, (2) Protect large, intact, natural landscapes and ecological processes and (3) Protect the geophysical setting.

These approaches are very important because they keep all essential elements need for species and biodiversity. For instance, well-managed protected areas reduce rates of habitat loss, maintain species population levels and can provide crucial ecosystem services [8], and preserve areas with diversity or high complex geophysical settings are crucial to conserve ecological and evolutionary processes and protect species associated with these features [9]. But also these classic conservation strategies help as a basis for the other three Yale strategies that are adapted to the projected climate [6].

Yale 4-6

The others three approaches address climate futures: (4) Identify and manage areas that will provide future climate space, (5) Identify and protect climate refugia and (6) Maintain and restore ecological connectivity.

These (4-6) Yale approaches address climate futures and require climate change scenarios analyses to explore the influence on species distributions and ecosystem functions and services. These conservation strategies are important because are not only about protecting what we have now, but also for future. For instance, many species and their habitats may respond to changing climate by generating changes in their geographical ranges; to preserve these species, we need to protect future climate space which can help anticipate future migration and locations for them [10]. Also, Heller and Zavaleta [7] found that increase connectivity is the best recommendation in their study about several conservation planning that have integrated climate change, additionally, increment and guarantee connectivity across different landscapes fosters the ability of species to move, migrate and shift their pattern.


We carefully selected the data based on the six major adaptation objectives from the Yale framework but also we included another special group called ecosystem services, and costs and constraints layers to calibrate the solutions based on user needs. All the data were prepared and adjusted to the planning unit, which is the minimum geophysical space for planning. We define two planning units with different resolutions: 1km and 5km. Fine resolution (1km) is better and closer to the actual data and features, and also for the results (we recommend it), however it takes more time to load and process. Coarse resolution (5 km) works faster than fine resolution and provides to users with a quick exploration of layers and solutions.


This project, in partnership with The Nature Trust of British Columbia, Canadian Parks, Wilderness Society and the BC Parks Foundation, and also by UBC and UNBC universities.


Oscar Venter

Principal Investigator

Peter Arcese

Co-Principal Investigator

Xavier Llano

Investigator PhD student

Karen T. Dietrich

MSc student


CAP-BC uses as a conservation planning application a specific implementation of Where to work tool, special thanks to them. The Where To Work application was developed by Jeffrey Hanson, Jaimie Vincent, and Joe Bennett at Carleton University and Richard Schuster at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.


  1. Najafi, M. R., Zwiers, F. & Gillett, N. Attribution of the Observed Spring Snowpack Decline in British Columbia to Anthropogenic Climate Change. Journal of Climate 30, 4113-4130, doi:10.1175/jcli-d-16-0189.1 (2017).
  2. Woods, A., Coates, K., Watts, M., Foord, V. & Holtzman, E. Warning Signals of Adverse Interactions between Climate Change and Native Stressors in British Columbia Forests. Forests 8, 280 (2017).
  3. Bellard, C., Bertelsmeier, C., Leadley, P., Thuiller, W. & Courchamp, F. Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity. Ecol Lett 15, 365-377, doi:10.1111/j.1461- 0248.2011.01736.x (2012).
  4. Parry, M. L., Rosenzweig, C., Iglesias, A., Livermore, M. & Fischer, G. Effects of climate change on global food production under SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios. Global Environmental Change 14, 53-67.
  5. AdaptWest Project. 2021. Gridded current and projected climate data for North America at 1km resolution, generated using the ClimateNA v7.01 software (T. Wang et al., 2021). Available at adaptwest.databasin.org.
  6. Schmitz, Oswald J., Lawler, Joshua J., Beier, Paul, Groves, Craig, Knight, Gary, Jr, Douglas A. Boyce, Bulluck, Jason, Johnston…, "Conserving Biodiversity: Practical Guidance about Climate Change Adaptation Approaches in Support of Land-use…", naar 35, 1 (2015), pp. 190--203.
  7. Heller, Nicole E. and Zavaleta, Erika S., "Biodiversity Management in the Face of Climate Change: A Review of 22 Years of Recommendations", Biological Conservation 142, 1 (2009), pp. 14--32.
  8. Watson, James E. M., Dudley, Nigel, Segan, Daniel B., and Hockings, Marc, "The Performance and Potential of Protected Areas", Nature 515, 7525 (2014), pp. 67--73.
  9. Beier, Paul and Brost, Brian, "Use of Land Facets to Plan for Climate Change: Conserving the Arenas, Not the Actors", Conservation Biology 24, 3 (2010), pp. 701--710.
  10. Lawler, Joshua J., "Conservation Planning for Climate Change: A Review of Approaches and Recommendations", Biological Conservation 142, 1 (2009), pp. 33--44.