Identify and Protect Potential Refugia: An Adaptation Brief

Commission for Environmental Cooperation
Posted on: 2/25/2022 - Updated on: 2/25/2022

Posted by




The Adaptation Briefs demonstrate how different adaptation strategies reduce vulnerabilities to key climate stressors and include case studies where these strategies have been implemented. The briefs complement the Climate Adaptation Toolkit, which contains tools to help MPA practitioners evaluate the vulnerability of their sites to climate change and identify appropriate adaptation strategies.

This brief highlights examples of adaptation actions that identify and protect potential refugia.

This brief is also available in Spanish and French.


Although climate change impacts are already being felt globally and are expected to increase over the coming century, these impacts are not equally distributed across all coastal and marine habitats. Climate change “refugia” is a term used to describe locations that are buffered from rapid changes and climate extremes, facilitating the persistence of sensitive habitats and species.

Featured Case Studies

  1. Conserving California's Coastal Habitats (California, United States)
  2. Promoting Resilience in the Mesoamerican Reef (Mesoamerican Reef along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras)
  3. Identifying Potential Marine Climate Change Refugia in Canada's Pacific Marine Ecosystems (Northeast Pacific Ocean of Canada)

About the MPA Toolkit

This brief is based on adaptation strategies and case studies from the Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (MPA Toolkit), an online resource created to make climate adaptation planning a simple, direct, and feasible process for marine protected area managers. The MPA Toolkit contains:

  • A step-by-step guide to undertaking a Rapid Vulnerability Assessment for marine and coastal areas
  • Structured and searchable adaptation strategy ideas with supporting case studies, reports and tools
  • Foundational adaptation resources
  • Selected experts who can be contacted for technical guidance


Identify and Protect Potential Refugia: An Adaptation Brief. January 14, 2022. Part of the Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas. EcoAdapt and Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

Affiliated Organizations

Since 1994, Canada, Mexico and the United States have collaborated in protecting North America's environment through the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC).

The NAAEC came into force at the same time as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and marks a commitment that liberalization of trade and economic growth in North America would be accompanied by effective cooperation and continuous improvement in the environmental protection provided by each country.

EcoAdapt is at the center of climate change adaptation innovation. We provide support, training, and assistance to make conservation and management less vulnerable and more Climate Savvy. Over the past 200 years, great strides have been made in the world of conservation and now all of that is at risk because of climate change. EcoAdapt is working to ensure the success of these past efforts by delivering a framework for climate adaptation.

Related Resources