Parks and protected areas are essential to our lives and economies: some provinces and territories still need convincing

Ottawa, Ontario, July 15, 2020 – In its latest annual parks report released in the lead-up to Canada’s Parks Day, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the critical role of Canada’s treasured parks and protected areas. They are not just important for protecting nature and tackling climate change, but also for maintaining Canadians’ health and well-being, and supporting a resilient, diversified economy. In the report, Healthy Nature Healthy People, CPAWS provides recommendations for how federal, provincial and territorial governments can provide health and economic benefits to Canadians by investing in protected areas.

In June, CPAWS welcomed the federal government’s reaffirmed commitment to protect 25% of Canada’s land and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030. However, this report also exposes that provincial and territorial governments vary in their enthusiasm for expanding protected area networks. Some, such as Northwest Territories, Yukon, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador are committed to expanding land protection, while others, in particular Alberta, are actively dismantling existing protected areas.  

“The global pandemic has reinforced how parks and protected areas are essential services that support Canadians’ mental and physical health, as well as the important role they play in Canada’s economy,” says Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS National Executive Director. “Investing in new and better managed parks and protected areas as part of economic recovery strategies, including in Indigenous protected areas and stewardship programs, will help communities that have been hard hit by job losses, and help to rebuild more stable and diverse community economies.”

The critical importance of parks and protected areas has been reinforced in three main ways during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Protecting and restoring healthy natural systems is important to help reduce the risk of future pandemics.
  2. Parks and other protected natural spaces provided essential services to Canadians by supporting their mental and physical health.
  3. Parks and protected areas can deliver significant economic benefits to communities and governments.

“The recent global pandemic has forced us to consider the link between nature, human health, and economic health and to re-think our future”, says Ms Schwartz. “As governments plan for economic recovery they can choose to go back to the status quo or rebuild societies and economies that are healthier, more equitable, and green.”


Read the report


Jennifer Scott
National Communications Manager, CPAWS
media@localhost | Cell: 613-447-8611 

About Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land, ocean and freshwater, and ensuring our parks and protected areas are managed to protect nature. In the past 57 years, we have played a leading role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory! Our vision is to protect at least half of Canada’s public land and water– for the benefit of both wildlife and people.