Climate change is impacting both ecosystems and biodiversity. Species’ ranges, migration patterns and population sizes have been impacted as habitats change due to new weather patterns and extreme events. Warming winters allow some pests to survive longer and cause more damage than they would have had in the past. In some areas, invasive species have appeared that have never been seen in the local ecosystem before. All of these impacts affect people in BC, because everyone relies on the healthy functioning of natural ecosystems — land, air and water — and the ways in which these support all life.
Concurrently, natural areas have much power to address climate change impacts. Wetlands can absorb storm surges and extreme precipitation, and in this way protect nearby communities from flooding. Healthy plant communities can protect slopes from erosion, and connected natural areas can facilitate species migration. Green infrastructure and nature-based climate solutions have played an important role in producing co-benefits for ecosystems. Maintaining healthy ecosystems is extremely important for climate resilience, and Indigenous Nations have extensive knowledge of respectful and effective stewardship.
An investment in the health of ecosystems is also an investment in food, traditional medicines, building and manufacturing materials, fuels, water management, pollution filtration, drainage and flood control, fish and wildlife, recreation and human well-being. An example of an investment in ecosystems and biodiversity that will assist in climate resilience is work that has been led by Haida Nation to restore kelp beds. Alongside increasing overall biodiversity, which will increase food security and stability in a changing climate, healthy kelp forests can help to mitigate strong waves before they reach the shore.
As climatic changes continue to influence ecosystem functions and biodiversity, adaptive steps become ever more important.