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CPAWS welcomes release of State of Parks report

For immediate release       December 14th, 2016   

CPAWS welcomes release of State of Parks report, highlights need for investments in ecological integrity mandate

OTTAWA – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomed today’s release of Parks Canada’s report on the State of Canada’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Places. This legal requirement is a key tool for transparency and public engagement when it comes to the health of our National Parks.

“We are particularly pleased to see Minister McKenna highlight ecological integrity as the priority in park management and the restatement of her commitment to work to achieve Canada’s international commitment to protect at least 17% of our land and 10% of our oceans by 2020,” said Éric Hébert-Daly, CPAWS National Executive Director.

The report itself has some positive news, but CPAWS has concerns about the reduction in measurements. “The report paints a positive picture about the state of our parks,” says Hébert-Daly. “It is good to see that only 46% of park ecosystems measured are in fair or poor condition as compared to 54% in 2011, but we still have a distance to go in ensuring the health of our national parks.”

CPAWS has been critical of budgetary cutbacks to Parks Canada’s ecological monitoring and conservation investments. Many of these cuts to science have come at the same time as the Agency increased staffing for visitor experience. This was of great concern to CPAWS at a time when assessments were showing that the majority of ecosystems in the parks were experiencing a decline in health or had simply not been evaluated.

Parks Canada states that 91% of ecosystem indicators have now been assessed compared to 58% in 2011, yet the number of indicators in the monitoring program has been decreased from 163 to 111, a decrease of 28%. 47 of the ecosystems have been dropped from the program, which raises the question about the scientific rigor of the reporting system.

This reduction is in line with the 30% cut in funding for conservation science and monitoring capacity since 2012, as identified by the Environment Commissioner in her 2013 report. The 30% reduction in conservation staffing identified in CPAWS’ 2016 Parks Report may also be a factor.

“The report does not include details on individual parks,” says Hébert-Daly. “It’s impossible to know what measures are being monitored for each indicator, but we are pleased by assurances that Parks Canada will share the background information in the near future.”

CPAWS has also called for a peer-review process for reports such as these to provide a fair third-party evaluation of both process and results.


Contact: Karen Turner, CPAWS Director of Communications and Development, 613-569-7226, ext. 232

Read the State of Parks report.