Master of Environmental Studies (MES)
Geography & Environmental Studies
Faculty of Arts
Climate change has quickly become one of the most commonly discussed topics in northern Canada. Communities located in Canada’s north are facing impacts to every aspect of life. Hazard mapping is one of the tools used to predict risk from climate change impacts and thus assist communities in adaptation planning. The Northern Climate ExChange in Yukon has developed hazard maps for seven communities across Yukon. While hazard maps are a useful tool, in order for them to reach their maximum potential, users need to be well educated and trained to use them. Capacity and communication are arguably the most significant challenge faced by northern communities when it comes to climate change adaptation.
The goal of this research is to connect hazard mapping research to community needs, and opportunities for adaptation and mitigation to assist with both development and adaptation to future changes to the land and ecosystems. This research is focused on case-studies of Burwash Landing & Destruction Bay and Old Crow, Yukon. These two communities were chosen because they have an existing hazard map and contrasting community characteristics, meaning the research has validity with a wider range of communities. Interviews were conducted in both communities and analyzed for common themes and responses. The interview questions were designed with the intention to stir discussions around climate change issues in the communities, general discussions around hazard maps and recommendations for governments, organizations and communities. Through interview analysis, six recommendations emerged, related to how research was conducted, communication pathways, education and government, research organization, and institutional structures.
Recommendations for research are to incorporate GIS map layers into existing mapping programs, and refine the language used in reports and outputs to best reflect community needs. The recommendation for communication pathways is to use stories to communicate successes and failures. The recommendation for education is to develop avenues to provide continued, consistent education in the communities. Lastly, recommendations for governance structures are to develop a climate change adaptation strategy framework, and for higher governing bodies to push forward in support of community-based research.
This research highlighted many common issues for conducting research in the north. Overwhelmingly, research outputs, communication barriers, and education were consistent themes. As climate change continues to alter northern communities, planning for these changes will become crucial for long-term survival and community resiliency.
Pike, Stephanie, "Policy, plans and processes for developing and improving the use of hazard maps in climate change adaptation for Yukon communities" (2019). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2172.