ISSUE: Climate change will continue to impact much of the Taiga Plains rapidly and severely due to the temperature sensitivity of this ecosystems and permafrost thaw. This introduces considerable uncertainty about the future of freshwater and other ecosystem services depended upon by the northern economy and communities. We lack adequate understanding of the cumulative effects of permafrost thaw and ecosystems feedbacks to establish the sustainable practices required to balance economic, societal and ecosystem needs. Resource exploration and extraction is poised to expand rapidly in the NWT yet little is known about the socio-economic impact of permafrost thaw coupled with natural resource development. To ensure successful community adaptation and planning, we require predictive tools developed through a targeted scientific study to facilitate long-term projections of permafrost conditions and ecosystem changes that may impact northern lifestyles, infrastructure, and resource development and management decisions.
SOLUTION: The Taiga Plains Research Network was formed to address these issues in a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. Comprised of researchers from academic institutions, partners within the Federal and NWT Governments, other NGOs and northern community leaders, the TPRN strives to conduct relevant world-class research on the Taiga Plains and contribute to capacity building and training in these affected communities.