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Canada’s Parks Facing Growing Threats

CPAWS is proud to have played a leading role in establishing many of Canada’s parks, which represent an important piece of our national identity. Establishing new parks is only the beginning – in addition to speaking up for creating new parks, it’s also our job to make sure that they’re properly managed to protect the nature and wildlife within their borders.

In 2008, CPAWS began publishing an annual report on the state of Canada’s parks. Back then, we applauded the rapid pace of park expansion and improvements to park management in many parts of the country. Oh, how things have changed! This year, our State of Canada’s Parks report contains far more bad news than good.

What are the threats our parks are facing?

They say money can’t buy happiness, but it is a necessary piece of the puzzle in proper park management. For our parks to be “happy” they need to be adequately funded. Recent funding cuts to Parks Canada are forcing the elimination of hundreds of jobs, resulting in a reduction of overall scientific and ecological monitoring capacity and shorter operational seasons and work hours for parks across the country.

Cutting the capacity to monitor and research ecological conditions within our parks is in our view short-sighted, because the government’s own research shows that every $1 invested in our parks returns $5 to Canada’s gross domestic product.

We’ve seen a notable rise in approvals of inappropriate and potentially harmful recreation and tourism activities within parks. Things like a massive concrete glass-bottomed viewing platform approved for Jasper National Park and soliciting proposals to re-build a long-closed downhill ski area in Riding Mountain National Park pose threats to our parks’ ecological health and are of dubious value in increasing people’s appreciation of nature.

Mining exploration, forestry, and oil and gas development can all  pose an enormous risk to the long-term health of our parks yet they are all, in one place or another, currently permitted within and adjacent to them.  Buffer zones are necessary to preserve the ecological integrity of our parks. If we don’t control the types of developments happening around them, the entire ecosystem is put at risk.

While there have been some positive things happening in the past year, like the creation of Sable Island National Park in Nova Scotia and the announcement of the new Rouge National Urban Park on the outskirts of Toronto, the bad news has overshadowed the good. For a more in-depth understanding of these and other threats facing our national, provincial and territorial parks across the country, read the full report here.