This summer I have visited Banff National Park. As you probably know, this was our first national park in Canada – established way back in 1887. The Rocky Mountain Parks Act says the park is for “the benefit, advantage, and enjoyment of the people of Canada.” Later, in 1930, the National Parks Act would declare parks as “dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education, and enjoyment” and that parks “shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave them impaired for the benefit of future generations.”
I am part of that “future generation” enjoying parks! This summer, I also spent a few days in Jasper National Park.
Out of Canada’s 47 national parks, I have visited only 12. My goal is to visit them all. Yes, even the ones in the north. There is a map of Canadian Parks in The Canadian Environment in Political Context. And you can find a list here. How many of you visited?!
Last week, the Globe and Mail featured an interesting article on our national parks. Or more specifically, on Parks Canada. It turns out that our lead eNGO on parks, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (formed in 1963), released a report suggesting that “The federal agency that manages Canada’s national parks has reduced both public input and scientific research in its decision-making process, and is allowing more development in places where fragile ecosystems need protection.”
This is reason for concern. Right now scientists are calling for “half for nature,” which means that we should be protecting 50% of earth’s land for other (non-human) living things (see Parks and Protected Areas in Canada by Dearden, Rollins, and Needham for a good read on national parks in Canada). We can half the planet, but we must give the other half to nature. As of 2016, 10.4% of Canada’s terrestrial area is legally protected. And about 1% of our marine territory is protected. This means we are falling short on our Aichi Target (as agreed to through the UN Convention on Biological Diversity). By 2020, 17% of terrestrial land and 10% of our marine territory is supposed to be legally protected. And we are of course way short on 50% of nature (which has not been declared a goal by the Canadian government).
Reading the report by CPAWS (find link here) is disheartening. Especially if you have ever visited one of our national parks and know all the beauty and splendour that they contain. From having been to Banff and Jasper just this summer, I definitely agree that Canadians should put a halt to any further development in those parks. And I think this guy would agree:
I have a graduate student coming to UTM in the fall to work on a project about A2A (Algonquin to Adirondacks; see some info here) . So I am about to learn a bunch more about parks. That means, my readers, you will too.