Livestock Surface Water Risk & Forage Assessment for BC Range

27th April 2021

This 4-part series provides the tools to evaluate livestock surface water risk and increase forage access under changing climate conditions. 



Sufficient and high-quality water is essential for sustainable livestock production on Crown Range in British Columbia. This webinar series introduces a method for assessing the climate change risks to surface water sources, and explains how to apply this process to water and range use management and planning.

The method uses future evaporation, climate moisture deficit and the flow accumulation model to evaluate future water reliability. Combining this process with forage resource data and other key rangeland characteristics allows you to plan for how climate change will affect water accessibility in areas with high value forage resources.

  • The first two sessions introduce the tools and approaches for assessing risk to surface water
  • The third session focuses on application of risk assessment to water development considerations
  • The final session provides an overview of three pilot projects that have applied the risk assessment and planning process to water developments on Crown Range in the Cariboo Region

The planning concepts are applicable to all parts of BC. Watch the four training session recordings below. 

Session 1

Tools to Assess Climate Change Risk to Water Availability

This session includes:
* An overview of the climate model
* Key findings from the Cariboo Livestock Surface Water Risk Assessment project
* An overview of the Forage and Water Resiliency Map Set that is available for range units within British Columbia
* A how-to on mapping the risk of climate change to surface water and the forage resource
* A how-to on accessing map layers using ArcGIS, Google Earth, and QGIS provided by Darin Brooks

Session 3

Planning a Water Development

This session includes:
* Range management planning
* How to link the forage resource with resilient water bodies
* How to predict zones of use based on distance to water and forage mapping
* A forage calculation spreadsheet to estimate available forage
* Examples of potential uses of the mapping resources – calculating carrying capacity, planning water developments, planning locations for rangeland health assessments

Session 2

Identifying Closed vs. Connected Water Resources and Zones of Use

This session includes:
* A review of evaporation maps and climate scenarios
* Discussion on the difference between open and closed basin wetlands
* How to use the relationship of a ponds surface area and volume to predict risk
* Discussion of the current model assumptions
* An introduction to the Flow Accumulation Model by Darin Brooks
* How to predict open and closed basin wetlands

Session 4

 More Information

The evaluation method, maps and pilot projects were developed through the Climate & Agriculture Initiative's Cariboo regional adaptation program. More information, reports and maps are available here.