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Report of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks

"Unimpaired for Future Generations"

A Definition of Ecological Integrity

The Panel proposes the following definition of ecological integrity: "An ecosystem has integrity when it is deemed characteristic for its natural region, including the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes." In plain language, ecosystems have integrity when they have their native components (plants, animals and other organisms) and processes (such as growth and reproduction) intact.

The Panel on Ecological Integrity was struck in November 1998 by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Sheila Copps, to identify issues, examine Parks Canada's approach for maintaining ecological integrity and provide recommendations for improvement. The Panel members travelled to a series of representative national parks to speak with park staff and other interested Canadians, to see first-hand the problems and stresses that threaten our national parks, and to develop a sense of how to address these problems.

The result of that journey is this detailed report, with specific recommendations addressed to the Minister and to the Parks Canada Agency. The Panel also wanted to share with a broader audience the fundamental substance of their findings and the thrust of their recommendations.

Thus, the Panel's report has two volumes:

Volume I: A Call to Action is an umbrella document that describes the serious threats that beset our national parks, presents an overview of values that may be lost if the threats are not resolved and identifies roles and key actions for all Canadians, and particularly for Parks Canada, to help resolve these threats.

Volume II: Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks identifies specific issues and problems and makes equally specific recommendations to the Minister and to Parks Canada on how these issues could be addressed. While there are branches of the Parks Canada Agency concerned with national historic canals, national historic sites, and other locations or structures, in this report the term "Parks Canada" is used specifically with reference to those branches of the Parks Canada Agency with jurisdiction over national parks.