Message from the Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada

By ensuring that our national parks are models of sound environmental protection and management, Parks Canada is helping to build the next generation of environmental stewards.

Alan Latourelle Chief Executive Officer Parks Canada Agency
Alan Latourelle Chief Executive Officer Parks Canada Agency
© Parks Canada

It gives me great satisfaction to introduce this set of stories that showcase our ongoing efforts to protect ecological integrity in Canada's national parks and national historic sites. These stories speak to the dedication and commitment of Parks Canada's employees, who have worked exceptionally hard, often with limited resources, to ensure that our natural heritage is conserved for the benefit of all Canadians. They also speak to the importance of the partnerships that Parks Canada has forged with stakeholders, organizations, and Aboriginal communities to achieve this all-important goal.

The challenges Parks Canada faces in improving Parks Canada Agency and maintaining the ecological integrity of our national parks and national historic sites are significant. When the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks released its report in 2000, it painted a frank, comprehensive and disturbing picture of the ecological condition of our parks. The panel concluded that Canada's national parks were threatened, and that urgent action was needed to bring them back into good ecological health. This assessment has shaped Parks Canada's corporate priorities over the past several years, and resulted in the Agency receiving significant new funding to achieve its ecological integrity goals.

We now have the resources we need to build on the success described in these projects, and to employ the lessons we have learned from them across our national parks, national marine conservation areas, and to some extent, the national historic sites systems. The projects describe some of the significant milestones we have reached on our ecological integrity journey, including: making ecological integrity central to park management; collaborating with Aboriginal peoples and allowing them to practice traditional activities in national parks; developing ecological integrity training programs for employees; increasing dialogue with other levels of government and federal agencies to promote cooperative ecological integrity activities; raising awareness of the ecological integrity challenges facing national parks to engage Canadians in their conservation; and initiating public education projects. We also set new standards for park management plans, which now include long-term ecological integrity visions, as well as ecological integrity objectives and indicators.

The successes recounted in this publication are primarily focused on collaborative efforts that have occurred between Parks Canada and our stakeholders and partners. Choosing these showcase projects was not easy. There are many other success stories from around the country that are equally significant. However, these few examples provide a good overview of the work being carried out in our national parks and national historic sites.

We are very proud of our ongoing partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and of how this collaboration has helped to promote effective ecosystem-based management across administrative boundaries. This strategy has led to the creation of biosphere reserves, model forests and world heritage programs, as well as to initiatives such as the Parks and People Program with Nature Canada and our Greater Park Ecosystem Initiative. We have also worked with partners and stakeholders on site restoration, species at risk initiatives, and the use of traditional knowledge for better ecosystem management, among other projects.

The success we have enjoyed over the past several years in restoring our national parks to good ecological health has depended, to a significant degree, on the strong funding support we have received from the federal government. With this support, we have been able to develop targeted ecological integrity and species at risk projects, and we have had sufficient flexibility to deal with the enormous challenges inherent in natural resource management. We are also grateful to the many provincial and territorial governments, academic and research institutions, non-governmental conservation organizations, local and indigenous communities, industries and thousands of volunteers who have invested their time and resources in our parks.

Finally, I wish to thank the Parks Canada team for planning, implementing and presenting these projects. I hope their inspiring projects will serve as examples of best practices that will be applied widely both within Canada and abroad.

This publication is organized into four main themes that reflect Parks Canada's outlook on the business of ecosystem conservation: ecosystem restoration, better park management, engaging Canadians, and regional partnerships. We believe that our success depends on a careful mix of science and partnerships, on truly engaging Canadians in our mandate, and on ensuring memorable visitor experiences in order to foster a culture of conservation in Canada.

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Alan Latourelle
Chief Executive Officer
Parks Canada Agency