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Canada has one of the oldest and most extensive parks systems in the world. CPAWS advocates for new parks and acts as a watchdog to ensure that existing ones are well-managed. With pressures on our wilderness growing, creating more parks and ensuring existing ones are well-funded and protected is more important than ever.

Canada’s national, provincial and territorial parks are protected wilderness areas set aside by and for the people of Canada, forever. Parks are places we dream about – where we get inspired by nature’s beauty, spend time with family and friends, learn about nature, and enjoy healthy outdoor activities. They’re also places that plants and animals rely on for their very survival. They provide space for wildlife to roam, feed and raise their young away from the threat of human development.

Our parks provide many more extraordinary benefits to Canadians. They provide clean water to some of our largest cities. They moderate our climate by storing carbon in their soils and forests. They provide outdoor laboratories for scientific research, and classrooms for learning about nature. For a growing number of Indigenous people, parks offer a way to maintain and share their cultural traditions.

CPAWS is on guard for how Canada’s parks are managed, to make sure they continue to protect the nature that inspired their creation.


Did you know...?

Parks are also important economic engines. For every dollar governments spend on our national, provincial and territorial parks, more than five dollars are generated for the Canadian economy. Canada`s parks also support 64,000 jobs across the country.


The threat

With only 10% of Canada’s landscape protected from industrial development pressures, more parks and protected areas are urgently needed to conserve Canada’s wildlife and ecosystems for future generations.

Our parks face many threats from inside and outside their boundaries that put their ecological integrity at risk, including:

  • Federal budget cuts have gutted scientific research and monitoring programs essential to protecting our national parks, and many parks are being closed for much of the year. Provincial spending on parks continues to be well below what’s needed to ensure their long term protection and enjoyment.
  • Inappropriate tourism and recreational development within our national parks threatens the well-being of ecosystems within their borders, while doing little to foster visitors’ appreciation for nature.
  • Growing industrial development pressures within and adjacent to many of our most famous parks threaten their ecological integrity.
  • Boundaries for new parks are too frequently designed to maximize industrial development in adjoining areas, rather than to ensure wildlife and ecosystems are well-protected.

Read more about the threats to Canada’s parks in CPAWS’ most recent Parks Report

What CPAWS is doing

All across Canada, CPAWS is working with local communities, First Nations, other conservation organizations and businesses to encourage governments to complete networks of parks and other protected areas, and to make sure existing parks are well-resourced and protected for the future.

We’re working to:

  • create new parks and protected areas;
  • ensure that parks and protected areas, once established, are managed to protect their ecological integrity forever;
  • ensure parks and protected areas are connected together so wildlife can move between them in response to changing climatic conditions; and
  • ensure industrial activity is prohibited in all Canada's parks and protected areas.


CPAWS Annual Parks Reports:

Each July in the lead up to Canada's Parks Day, CPAWS releases a review of the progress and challenges facing our parks:


Canadian Wilderness, Spring 2012: Parks under threat
Wild East (CPAWS NS), Born to be Wild: Celebrating our National Parks
Canadian Wilderness, Fall 2008, A new future for parks

Policy briefs and submissions:

Re-investing in national parks:

CPAWS is a member of the Green Budget Coalition which brings together 16 national environmental and conservation organizations to make annual recommendations to "green" the federal budget.  For many years CPAWS has led in developing recommendations for federal funding for national parks and other federal protected areas. 

Read our full recommendations

Canada's Parks Day (third Saturday in July)
Join Canadians from sea to sea to sea to celebrate the importance of our parks and historic sites.


Celebrate Parks Video Contest (2010)
With the support of Parks Canada, we ran this contest to introduce Canadians to their national parks.  See the submissions here:

Take Action!

Fight for Your Parks: Stop commercial development in Banff and Jasper National Parks
Fight for Your Parks: Stop commercial development in Banff and Jasper National Parks
The list of inappropriate development within our national parks is growing and it threatens the natural values our parks are intended to protect. Join us and fight for YOUR parks!
Read more | Sign the petition
Help protect Wood Buffalo National Park
Help protect Wood Buffalo National Park
Write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to take steps to stop the development of hydroelectric projects and oil sands activities that may negatively affect the Park.
Read more | Write a letter
Ensure the Rouge is protected forever
Ensure the Rouge is protected forever
Stay informed of developments regarding the Rouge campaign.
Read more | Sign up for updates
Stand up for Jasper!
Stand up for Jasper!

Your voice is needed to ensure park policies are respected so Jasper and our other Rocky Mountain national parks are protected for future generations of Canadians to appreciate and enjoy.

Join thousands of Canadians who are standing up for Jasper. Sign the petition today.

Read more | Sign the pledge!
Join the movement for Canada's parks!
Join the movement for Canada's parks!
Do you love Canada's parks? Help us create new parks and better protect existing ones by signing on today!
Read more | Sign on
Help us protect Gros Morne forever!
Help us protect Gros Morne forever!
Please add your support to the growing list of people who want to ensure that Gros Morne is protected for future generations.
Read more | Sign the petition
Take Action: Show your support for the creation of Thaidene Nene
Take Action: Show your support for the creation of Thaidene Nene
Thaidene Nene – the heart of the homeland of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation around and beyond the East Arm of Great Slave Lake – has taken a huge step toward becoming Canada’s newest and most innovative park.
Read more | Write a letter
Keep the Flathead Wild
Keep the Flathead Wild
The Flathead Valley is one of the most biologically important places on earth. A key connection for animals moving north and south through the Rocky Mountains, it is a magical place of great wildness that has never been settled by humans. Help create a National Park in this special area.
Read more | Take action
Sign the Peel statement of support
Sign the Peel statement of support
Help create the largest protected area in North America by signing on to this statement of support for the First Nations' goal of protecting the entire Peel River watershed.
Read more | Add your name at Protect Peel


Canadian Wilderness, Spring 2016 (Spring 2016)

Nature: Part of the climate change solution

CPAWS Special Report: Commercial Development threatens Canada’s National parks (September 2015)

There is a crisis in Canada’s national parks. A rash of commercial development projects have been approved in Banff and Jasper, and similar development pressures are now spilling over into other national parks as well.  CPAWS’ Special Report highlights the growing list of commercial developments that are close to final approval, or have already been completed in recent years.

Executive Summary: Protecting Canada’s National Parks (July 2016)
Protecting Canada’s National Parks: A call for renewed commitment to nature conservation (July 2016)

In its latest annual report released in advance of Canada Parks Day, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is calling on Parks Canada to re-focus on its legal obligation to protect nature as the first priority for managing our national parks, and to immediately stop development in Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Protecting Canada: Is it in our nature? How Canada can achieve its international commitment (July 2015)

This report assesses Canada’s progress towards our country’s commitment to protect at least 17% of our land and freshwater by 2020, and improve the quality of our parks and other protected areas. Achieving this 2020 target is an important step towards the much largerscale conservation action that’s needed to conserve Canada’s ecosystems in the long term.

View more publications

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