Burn in central Yukon, Hilary Cooke
Burn in central Yukon © Hilary Cooke

Climate change

Climate change is already reshaping natural systems, changing everything from snow cover and water levels to the size and intensity of wildfires.

We are focused on solutions that use the essential role of nature to reverse climate change and its impact on people, while helping nature adapt to the changing world.

The Challenge

The speed and scope of change

  • These changes are happening quickly – in some cases, faster than species and northern communities can adapt. The new pressures created by changing climate conditions, such as habitat shifts and changes in food availability, are adding to pressures on wild species, ecosystems, and local communities from resource development and other human activities.

Our Solutions

Calling attention to the essential role of northern peatlands

  • We’re drawing attention to the need to protect peatlands in Canada. We’re working on ways to better understand peatland ecology and to advance policies to protect places like the Hudson’s Bay Lowlands – the world’s second largest peatland complex.

Identifying and protecting climate refugia

  • We're identifying places that will change more slowly because of local conditions. These refugia can help species that are feeling the heat from climate change.

  • We focus on conserving large and ecologically intact areas like the far north in Ontario and watersheds in Yukon through our support of Indigenous-led conservation and land use planning efforts. This gives species options when faced with bigger fires or other changes to their habitat. These large areas are more resilient to climate change than small, fragmented habitats.

Understanding how climate change affects wildlife

  • We’re suggesting several ways to reduce the impact of growing ship traffic on whales and seals, before the Arctic Ocean becomes a busy shipping shortcut.

  • We’re studying how bat boxes can provide a safe range of temperatures for bats to roost and raise their young.

Projects

Documenting the impacts of underwater noise

Documenting the impacts of underwater noise

Addressing impacts from shipping and climate change in the western Arctic

Yukon Climate Change

Yukon Climate Change

Why we need to plan for a changing climate and landscape

Resources


Stories and op-eds

Singing from the same song sheet: bringing the climate and biodiversity agendas together
2023-12-21

Singing from the same song sheet: bringing the climate and biodiversity agendas together

Earlier this month in Dubai at the COP28 climate talks, the world’s countries finally agreed that addressing the climate crisis will require a “transition away” from fossil fuels.
Justina Ray
After burn: The new face of fire puts wildlife on the hot seat
2023-11-01

After burn: The new face of fire puts wildlife on the hot seat

How Canada’s wildlife is struggling to cope with the human-induced forcings of climate change
Justina Ray, Hilary Cooke
Burning trees: not a good way to solve the climate crisis
2023-08-01

Burning trees: not a good way to solve the climate crisis

Letter to Yukon News: re Biomass for Institutional Heating
Donald Reid, Hilary Cooke

Media coverage

The Road - The Breathing Lands

WCS Canada's Lorna Harris was interviewed for this podcast series on development in northern Ontario.
2024-01-30 | National Observer

Peatlands are the climate bomb waiting to explode

The destruction of peatlands can cause billions of tons of carbon to be released into the atmosphere, worsening the already intensifying climate crisis
2023-08-28 | The Week

Our team

Justina Ray

Justina Ray

President & Senior Scientist

Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle

Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle

Co-Director, Northern Boreal Mountains Program

Lorna Harris

Lorna Harris

Director of Forests, Peatlands and Climate Change Program

Victoria Goodday

Victoria Goodday

Policy Analyst - Natural Climate Solutions


Press releases

New report shows Canada’s trees in growing trouble
2023-03-26

New report shows Canada’s trees in growing trouble

Almost one-quarter of tree species now at risk