Record-breaking heatwaves, aquatic biodiversity, and human communities: BC and beyond

The heatwave that occurred in western Canada in early July 2021 broke temperature records in many areas, causing possibly over 600 excess heat-related deaths and a mass die-off of marine life along the seashore in British Columbia. Recent studies show that climate change has been increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves. The ocean, rivers, and lakes, as well as their fisheries and dependent human communities, such as coastal Indigenous people, are also largely affected by heatwaves in addition to the other impacts from climate change. We need to act to prevent the avoidable impacts and adapt to the unavoidable changes, locally through initiatives such as the British Columbia Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy and internationally through the Paris Agreement.

In this webinar, we bring together leading experts in climatology, oceanography, aquatic ecology, and fisheries from UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries to share their knowledge about heatwaves and their impacts on biodiversity and dependent human communities. The webinar will also provide a forum to discuss responses and actions that are needed at individual, community, and governmental levels to address the increasing threats from heatwaves to biodiversity and society.

The webinar will feature short talks focusing on different aspects of heatwaves and their implications for aquatic ecosystems and fisheries, as indicated below.These will be followed by a Q&A and discussion between the speakers, invited community partners, and seminar participants.
Simon Donner,Professor, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and Department of GeographyCrime Scene Investigation: West Coast Heatwave
Christopher Harley,Professor, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and Department of ZoologyWell that stunk: The 2021 heat dome and mass die-offs of seashore life
Brian Hunt,Assistant Professor, Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesWhat heatwaves mean for the coastal ocean in British Columbia
William Cheung,Professor and Director, Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesAdding fuel to the fire: Heatwaves impact on fish stocks that are already threatened by multiple stressors

Parks Rx Nature Prescriptions

Taking Action to Connect Nature and Health

Conversations about promoting the health benefits of nature based experiences in parks and protected areas are common within the parks and protected areas community and among health care practitioners. At the 2019 Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Healthy Parks Healthy People conference in 2019, delegates from both the parks community and the health sector sparked an initiative to create PaRx (, a national program for prescribing nature-based experiences and turning the conversation about health and parks into action

“In light of everything happening during the global pandemic, and the intensive use and interest in parks, the timing could not be better for the BC Parks Foundation to launch Canada’s first national, evidence-based nature prescription program.”

Launching in BC, PaRx will grow through grassroots initiatives across Canada that will offer an opportunity for communities, health care providers, and patients to take action that connects wellbeing with nature-based activities.

Building on international initiatives, PaRx offers an evidence-based nature prescription program, quick tips and patient handouts, and opportunities to join a vibrant movement that can benefit Canadians while demonstrating the growing importance of parks and protected areas for human health and well-being.

Read the BC Parks Foundation Launch Announcement here