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3.0 - The Park Planning Context

3.1 - Regional Setting

Fundy National Park was established in 1948. It is located in southern New Brunswick, adjacent to the upper Bay of Fundy (See Map 1). The regional economy is based on the principal industries of logging, tourism, farming, and mining. The surrounding area is sparsely populated, with the small community of Alma, situated at the southeastern edge of the park, being the only adjacent settlement. The major population centres of the region include Saint John, Fredericton, Sussex, and Moncton. Highway 114 bisects the park, extending from Wolfe Lake in the northwest to Alma in the southeast, and provides a transportation link to the Trans-Canada Highway near Sussex.

Fundy National Park encompasses 207 km2 of rolling uplands and steep ravines, bordered on the south by Chignecto Bay in the upper Bay of Fundy. The park encompasses portions of two ecoregions: the Fundy Coast, and the Southern New Brunswick Uplands (Map 2). The Fundy Coast ecoregion includes gently sloping beaches and tidal flats, sheltered coves, and rugged cliffs rising 150 m from the bay. Within the Southern New Brunswick Uplands the topography rises to nearly 400 m, and steep-sided ravines carved by the Upper Salmon River, Point Wolfe River, Goose River and their tributaries, meander to the coast.

The park protects an assemblage of different forest types. Some forest stands are progressing toward late-successional sequences following extensive logging in the early 20th century. Other areas of the park have experienced successional regression due to population eruptions of spruce budworm in the late 1970s and early 1980s, resulting in large areas of young, regenerating stands. Along the coast, where frequent fog and cool breezes from the Bay influence forest ecosystem development, the dominant tree species are red spruce and balsam fir. On well-drained upland hills and slopes, tolerant hardwood forests of sugar maple, yellow birch, and American beech occur. River valleys support mixed coniferous and deciduous stands, and a few small, poorly-drained sites support black spruce and larch stands. Although the forests have recovered substantially from the effects of logging, the present distribution of forest types does not yet reflect the predicted natural forest composition for the park.

Fundy National Park is embedded in a regional landscape where industrial forestry operations are the dominant land use. Clearcutting is the primary method of forest harvesting. The conversion of natural mixed-wood and hardwood forests to single species conifer plantations has occurred over the last 30 years. Natural disturbances, such as fire and insect defoliation, have been suppressed, further altering the composition and structure of the forests in the region. Tourism and agriculture, including commercial blueberry production near the park boundaries, are also important economic activities in the region.

The park is an anchor for the tourism industry of southern New Brunswick, attracting visitors from regional, national, and international markets. A number of other nearby heritage attractions complement the experience offered by the park. These include the historic lighthouse at Cape Enrage, Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, the Shepody National Wildlife Area (which includes the Mary’s Point Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve), the Sackville Waterfowl Park, the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre, and the Caledonia Gorge Protected Area. West of the park, eleven kilometres of the Fundy Trail Parkway have been completed. This parkway includes a scenic drive, hiking trails and interpretive facilities along the Fundy coast. The Fundy Footpath hiking trail has also been developed in this area.

Current and historic land use, both within and outside the park boundaries, has negatively affected the ecological integrity of Fundy National Park. Changes in tree species composition and forest structure have been accompanied by other ecological changes. Six of 42 native mammal species have either been extirpated, or are at risk of extirpation within the park. Three freshwater fish species, and 20 species of vascular plants have also been lost from the park. Fundy National Park has played an important role in efforts to re-introduce several of these species, including marten, Atlantic salmon, and peregrine falcon. The large scale ecological changes occurring around the park continue to present a challenge to effective biodiversity conservation in the park and surrounding landscape.

Parks Canada participates in regional planning and research initiatives, such as the Greater Fundy Ecosystem Research Group, the Fundy Model Forest, and the Upper Bay of Fundy Biosphere Initiative. Parks Canada also works co-operatively with other federal and provincial government agencies, and local authorities, to ensure that park management efforts are integrated into the context of the surrounding area, and to encourage the application of compatible land management practices on adjacent lands. At the same time, Parks Canada strives to ensure that activities at Fundy National Park have beneficial ecological, social, and economic effects within the surrounding region.

3.2 - Trends in Visitor Use at Fundy National Park

Park visitor data gathered at the campgrounds indicate that 40% of campers are New Brunswick residents, 8% are from Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, and 52% are from outside the Maritimes region.

Additional data on summer visitors to the Fundy Coast region in 2001 were compiled by the New Brunswick Government. Some of the trends identified include:

  • visitors are very well educated and very sound financially.
  • visitors from outside the Maritimes include more adult couples (59%) than families (29%).
  • visitors from the Maritimes (excluding New Brunswick residents) include more family groups (67%) than adult couples (24%).

Recent trends suggest that there will be a gradual increase in demand for the visitor experience offered within Fundy National Park. In 2002, park visitation was estimated to be 251,382 person-visits, up approximately 1% from the previous year. Shoulder season visitation is also expected to rise due to an increase in the number of childless couples and single adults visiting the park later in the main visitor season, or during winter.

Visitor characteristics are also changing. On average, visitors to the park increasingly have higher levels of education than in the past, and they seek appropriate opportunities to learn about the natural and cultural heritage of the area. The average age of park visitors is also increasing, consistent with North American demographic trends.

Recent trends in park use include:

  • an increase in day trips, especially by regional New Brunswick visitors;
  • an increase in the use of the park’s frontcountry recreational facilities; and,
  • a relatively stable rate of participation in multi-day trips to the park, which is expected to increase marginally in the near future.

3.3 - Recent Developments in Legislation, Policy and Organization

Since the completion of the previous management plan, Parks Canada has adopted new policies and the Government of Canada has enacted new legislation governing national parks. The most significant statutes and policy documents that affect national park planning and management are:

  • the Parks Canada Guiding Principles and Operational Policies (1994), which provide the policy framework for all national park management activities;
  • the Parks Canada Agency Act (1998), which formally establishes Parks Canada as a separate agency of the government;
  • the Canada National Parks Act, which strengthens the Agency’s mandate to maintain and restore ecological integrity within national parks;
  • the Parks Canada Action Plan, released in response to the Ecological Integrity Panel Report (2000);
  • Engaging Canadians: Parks Canada’s Strategy for External Communications (2001), which identifies the fundamental communication and external relations goals of the Agency.

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