Measuring Change in BC’s Parks



In 2011, BC Parks launched its Long-term Ecological Monitoring, or LTEM, project. This project is designed to measure environmental change over a long period of time. Parks provide relatively pristine areas in which to do this, and can teach us a lot about how the environment responds to climate change.

Our LTEM plots measure either a change in the area covered by different species that are found in an area (we call these “species change plots”, which we revisit every four years), or changes in the number of berries or animals that are found in an area (we call these as “productivity plots”, which we revisit every year).

2016 was our sixth year into this monitoring program. It is still much too soon to see any meaningful patterns in the data we are collecting. But we are starting to get a lot of data back, and are well on our way to reaching our goal of having at least 96 sites distributed across the province in five different biomes.

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An example of some preliminary Data: Changes in water depth and in water temperature over two years in Yellow Point Bog Ecological reserve.

Mount Robson LTEM

In July, 2016, a BC Parks staff and volunteer team established a permanent alpine monitoring plot in Mount Robson Provincial Park. As a result of climate change, alpine temperatures are warming, the growing season is lengthening, and precipitation patterns are changing. In response, we expect to see changes in the alpine plant communities over time, and potentially a loss of high alpine meadows, with the tree line moving to higher elevations. This monitoring protocol will allow us to track those changes well into the future.

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Dr. Pamela Wright, UNBC volunteer, Anna McIndoe, BC Parks Conservation Specialist and Sigrid Vermeulen, BC Parks Ranger, surveying alpine plant species in Mount Robson Park. A nice day at the office!

Get involved

BC Parks needs help to make sure that all of our LTEM plots are established, and that they continue to be monitored over time. We already have many volunteers working with us on this program, but more help is needed. If you or a community group you belong to would like to help us monitor ecological change within our parks, please contact the LTEM Program Coordinator, Tory Stevens, at Tory.Stevens@gov.bc.ca.

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