Environmental Management

, 48:675

Changing Climate, Challenging Choices: Identifying and Evaluating Climate Change Adaptation Options for Protected Areas Management in Ontario, Canada


    • Geography and Environmental StudiesWilfrid Laurier University/Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas, University of Waterloo
  • Daniel J. Scott
    • University of Waterloo

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-011-9700-x

Cite this article as:
Lemieux, C.J. & Scott, D.J. Environmental Management (2011) 48: 675. doi:10.1007/s00267-011-9700-x


Climate change will pose increasingly significant challenges to managers of parks and other forms of protected areas around the world. Over the past two decades, numerous scientific publications have identified potential adaptations, but their suitability from legal, policy, financial, internal capacity, and other management perspectives has not been evaluated for any protected area agency or organization. In this study, a panel of protected area experts applied a Policy Delphi methodology to identify and evaluate climate change adaptation options across the primary management areas of a protected area agency in Canada. The panel identified and evaluated one hundred and sixty five (165) adaptation options for their perceived desirability and feasibility. While the results revealed a high level of agreement with respect to the desirability of adaptation options and a moderate level of capacity pertaining to policy formulation and management direction, a perception of low capacity for implementation in most other program areas was identified. A separate panel of senior park agency decision-makers used a multiple criterion decision-facilitation matrix to further evaluate the institutional feasibility of the 56 most desirable adaptation options identified by the initial expert panel and to prioritize them for consideration in a climate change action plan. Critically, only two of the 56 adaptation options evaluated by senior decision-makers were deemed definitely implementable, due largely to fiscal and internal capacity limitations. These challenges are common to protected area agencies in developed countries and pervade those in developing countries, revealing that limited adaptive capacity represents a substantive barrier to biodiversity conservation and other protected area management objectives in an era of rapid climate change.


Climate changeParksProtected areasAdaptationConservationManagementPolicyPolicy Delphi

Supplementary material

267_2011_9700_MOESM1_ESM.xls (286 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 286 kb)
267_2011_9700_MOESM2_ESM.xls (138 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLS 138 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011