The Canadian Arctic Monitoring and Prediction System (CAMPS): A proposal for a coordinated knowledge system to understand and anticipate change in Canada’s Northern ecosystems

D.S. McLennan

The Arctic climate is rapidly changing. This leads to complex changes in tundra, lakes, streams and oceans across Canada’s North. These changes will have important consequences for arctic plants and animals, and for northern communities who rely on the animals for food. These changes will also affect the conservation mandates of government agencies. And they have an impact on how we understand the impacts of industrial development and mitigate any potential impacts. Developing new knowledge to understand how, where, and why these changes are occurring is critically important. It will allow us to anticipate changes, rather than react to them after they occur.

Canada has a world-class academic and governmental science community. However, there are problems with current research and monitoring approaches. These issues include lack of sustained funding for northern science research stations. There is poor coordination among government agencies. Research is limited in time by short funding cycles. It is also limited by a lack of connectivity between research sites.

Another important issue is that the considerable Indigenous Knowledge in northern communities has not historically been used. However, this situation is beginning to change. The Canadian Arctic Monitoring and Prediction System (CAMPS) is a proposal to start a national dialogue across the North. The aim is to develop a strategic northern knowledge system. This system will coordinate ongoing science initiatives to optimize and coordinate present investments, and to propose new ones. It will also work to mobilize the intellectual capital of Indigenous Knowledge present in northern communities. A regional proof-of-concept project is recommended to coordinate local stakeholders and demonstrate how CAMPS can be applied in northern Canada.

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