In this section, you can read about Metro Vancouver’s current climate action projects related to Nature and Ecosystems, search for technical data, and explore best practices from our region. You can also browse our management plans and policies, and find links to what other cities, provinces and countries are doing to address climate change.

About This Priority

The natural environment we value (forests, fresh water, habitat) both needs and provides protection from the impacts of climate change. Natural areas hold cultural significance, provide clean air and water and cool down urban areas. Soils and vegetation capture rainwater, protect the foreshore and provide shade.

Regional ecosystems include natural and urban forests, wetlands, riparian areas near streams, peatlands and marine areas. Marine areas provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered killer whales, salmon, and shorebirds. The ocean has spiritual, cultural and ceremonial value for local First Nations, and it provides traditional foods. Salt marshes and seagrasses can store carbon and mitigate flooding in coastal communities.

Climate 2050: Nature and Ecosystems

The natural environment we value (forests, fresh water, habitat) both needs and provides protection from the impacts of climate change.

Download a full description of this priority.

Anticipated Impacts

  • Climate change will impact the tree canopy, shift growing seasons and cause storm damage and flooding to natural areas.
  • Sea level rise will flood coastal areas and increase the presence of salt in water and soils.
  • Local species are not able to adapt to this speed of change - plants, trees and animals will be displaced.
  • With rising seas and storm surge, intertidal wetlands will be lost as they are unable to move higher due to sea walls and other man-made structures. Some call this "coastal squeeze".
  • Local species, like salmon, are put at risk by changes to their environment.

Featured Story: Urban Trees

Climate change is affecting the long-term survival of our urban forest. Metro Vancouver is developing guidelines and education materials to help landscapers choose trees that can adapt to our region's urban environment and weather conditions.



Healthy ecosystems provide the basis for local food security and prosperity for us all. Soil, forests, wetlands and other ecosystems also contribute to the regulation of the global climate by removing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Natural areas and greenspaces play a key role in assisting communities adapt to climate change. Examples include:

  • Soils and vegetation capture rainwater, protect the foreshore, and moderate the impacts of extreme weather events, reducing the need for built infrastructure.
  • Trees provide shading in urban areas, which reduces the energy needed to cool buildings and gives relief to residents during extreme heat events.
  • Maintaining tree canopy and managing urban forests so they are resilient to the impacts of climate change will mean they are able to continue to provide these adaptation benefits.
  • Incorporating green infrastructure such as rain gardens, bioswales and green roofs into development projects will increase resilience and help to mitigate environmental impacts, particularly in more urban areas.


Learn More About Climate Change

Climate change is already affecting our planet and our region in profound ways, making our summers hotter and drier, our winters warmer and wetter, and increasing the occurrence of extreme weather events.

Learn More