On March 31st and April 1st ACT brought together a wide range of expertise from the fields of biodiversity and rural resource-dependent communities to provide input and feedback on the development of policy recommendations in these areas with respect to climate change adaptation in British Columbia.The results of these meetings will be used by the ACT research team, lead by Jon O’Riordan, former Deputy Minister of Sustainable Resource Management for the BC Provincial Government and Adjunct Professor of the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, to inform their policy recommendations surrounding communities in jeopardy, due out in approximately three months time.

The conference opened with presentations from Jim Snetsinger, Chief Forester for the Forest Stewardship Division, BC Ministry of Forests, who spoke on current adaptation challenges and responses in BC forests, and Lara Whitely-Binder, an outreach specialist at the Climate Impacts Group of the University of Washington, who presented on current and projected climate change impacts in the Pacific Northwest.Following these presentations, participants broke-out into groups to discuss what they saw as the major climate change adaptation issues in their various areas or sectors.

Highlights from the afternoon included presentations by Trevor Murdock, Associate Professor with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria, about the Report to the Province on Biodiversity – local impact models; by Tory Stevens, Protected Areas Ecologist with the Parks and Protected Areas Branch of the BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, on the Report to the Province on Biodiversity – species impacts; and by Robin Sydneysmith, lead author of the BC Chapter of the NRCAN 2007 National Assessment on Impacts and Adaptation, who gave an overview of the BC portion of the federal assessment report.

A public dialogue took place Monday evening in a town hall style that saw a diverse range of experts share short vignettes about climate change adaptation and communities in jeopardy, and then engage with the audience through question and answer, with questions originating both from the expert’s panel and the audience.The expert’s panel was composed of: Donna Barton, Mayor of 100 Mile House and Chair of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition; Stewart Cohen, Researcher for the Adaptation and Impacts Research Division of Environment Canada and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability; Dawn Morrison, Coordinator of the Indigenous People’s Food Network; Jon O’Riordan; and Gary Zorn, Proprietor of Eco-Tours BC.

The second day of the conference saw presentations by Kindy Gosal, of the Columbia Basin Trust, who spoke on community adaptation to climate change impacts in the Columbia Basin; Michael Dunn, of the Land Trust Alliance BC, who spoke on adaptation and mitigation through conservation of nature; and Donna Barton, who highlighted municipal policy challenges and achievements developed during the district’s efforts to adapt to the pine beetle infestation.Participants focused their discussions during the day around the viable policy alternatives that could be used to address the various challenges highlighted throughout the two-day workshop.The ACT research team will now work with these recommendations.Please check back here for updates of their progress.