The first Canadian National Adaptation Strategy prepared in collaboration with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, Indigenous peoples, and other key stakeholders (NAS). This strategy will build upon the Pan-Canadian Framework and adaptation strategies led by provinces, territories, local governments, Indigenous peoples, and others to reflect a shared vision for climate resilience in Canada, identify key priorities for increased collaboration, and establish a framework for measuring national progress.
Conservation and restoration of natural resources are integral components of Canada’s climate change mitigation and adaptation plans. Plants absorb and store greenhouse gases, while trees provide shade and reduce air temperature during the summer. Canada has pledged to protect 25% of its land and water by 2025, combat climate change with nature-based solutions, and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Nature-based solutions absorb and store greenhouse gases, manage water levels, protect coasts from storm surges and erosion, and even cold cities to counteract climate change. In Nova Scotia, for example, restoring salt marshes protects from flooding tens of thousands of people, businesses, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Indigenous villages, and more than 20,000 hectares of farmland.
There are several natural cures for climate change, but none exist without trees. Forests offer several economic, social, and environmental advantages for Canadians, such as the absorption of greenhouse gases and erosion control in flood zones, thus supporting communities in dealing with and adapting to the consequences of climate change. Canada will plant two billion trees over the next decade as part of its attempts to promote the use of natural climate solutions. Adaptation also includes analyzing climate data to identify which tree species will thrive in a certain community or area in 20 or 50 years and how to protect the future health of forests. For example, better ways to take care of forests may make storms and wildfires less likely in some places.
Large quantities of carbon dioxide now stored in soils, marshes, grasslands, and seas, in addition to trees. Effective land management practices, such as no-till, may help maintain and enhance the amount of carbon dioxide that plants absorb and store in the soil. This natural strategy is excellent for both reducing climate change and stimulating plant development, since both need soil carbon. In particular, wetland ecosystems may store vast quantities of carbon. Urban and rural wetland regions absorb significant precipitation and snowmelt, thus decreasing the frequency of floods in our cities.
The possibility that changing their natural characteristics might hamper their ability to regulate and adapt to climate change emphasizes the need to preserve and conserve these essential ecosystems. Human health and well-being are enhanced by the presence of urban parks, green spaces, and trees, as well as frequent interaction with nature. It has been shown that interaction with nature and green places improves mental health, increases physical activity, and provides additional social advantages for well-being, such as sentiments of community, togetherness, and stewardship. Moreover, nature may function as a natural barrier to avoiding urban flooding. During heat waves, trees may provide shade and natural cooling. They reduce the urban heat island effect by adding moisture to the air and providing shade, which lowers temperatures, energy use, and illness. Wetlands and trees contribute to enhanced air and water quality; nature aids in the pollination of key crops, and a healthy ecosystem with a high level of biological diversity may lessen the risk of catching certain illnesses. Even while nature-based treatments have some unintentional negative health consequences, such as the creation of new bugs or pest habitats, these effects are negligible. Public education and preventive measures may help to reduce the incidence of these hazards.
Adaptation methods continue to be developed, but Canada’s climate change preparation has significant gaps. Extreme weather conditions produce natural catastrophes such as floods and wildfires. We must move expeditiously on adaptation for Canada’s economic and social welfare. It includes both local efforts and a global perspective on the implications, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change, which may have a significant impact on the United States’ food supply, economy, and immigration. Natural Resources Canada is cooperating with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Public Safety Canada, and Infrastructure Canada to establish a national adaptation plan that will protect Canadians from severe weather and escalating climate risks. The new climate action plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy includes this approach.