On guard for Canada’s national parks
|Ukkusiksilak (Wager Bay) Photo by Elizabeth Seale|
National parks help protect Canadian wilderness areas against the juggernaut of industrial and commercial development. They preserve our nation’s unique ecosystems before they are lost forever.
Parliament sets aside and protects natural areas as national parks for the people of Canada. Most Canadians know national parks as places to vacation, camp, hike and canoe, but they are far more than just summer playgrounds. They are spectacular and serene landscapes that harbour globally significant wildlife populations and habitats of endangered species.
Our national parks system began in 1885 with the protection of several tiny hot springs in a 23-square kilometre reserve in Banff, Alberta. Today our 41 national parks include as much land as the entire country of New Zealand. But there is still plenty of room to grow.
Since 1971, Nature Canada has played an important role in the protection of more than 125,000 square kilometres of lands and waters in Canada’s national parks system. Our current priority is ensuring the creation of four new national parks—the Mealy Mountains in Newfoundland, Bathurst Island in Nunavut, Manitoba Lowlands, and Wolf Lake in the Yukon.
Nature Canada also seeks to protect the ecological integrity of existing national parks. Thirty-one of Canada’s national parks are subject to ecological stress—from significant to severe—due to human activities in and around park boundaries, and 13 report that their situation has worsened since 1992. Nature Canada fights developments that pose threats to existing parks, and educates Canadians about what they can do to help conserve Canada’s wilderness legacy.