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Message from Canada's Minister of the Environment

Ecological Integrity and Environmental Protection are Essential to Our Future

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment
© Parks Canada

Few countries are as blessed with natural riches as Canada. Our national parks system is envied around the world, and our system of national marine conservation areas promises to be held in equal esteem when it is ultimately completed. Canada's protected heritage areas are truly special places. They are icons of our nation and its rich natural heritage, part of national identity, and a source of pride for all Canadians.

As the Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, I am committed to the conservation of our national parks and national marine conservation areas for present and future generations, and to providing opportunities for Canadians to experience them in their natural state. The Government of Canada shares this commitment. In both Budget 2003 and Budget 2005, we made significant long-term investments in the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks. We did so because these places are national treasures that belong to all Canadians-places of beauty and wonder that foster and support conservation.

National parks are very important to me. I believe that the future of Canada's sustainable economy depends on our commitment, as a nation, to protect our environment; that our environmental health will be a barometer of our economic health, and that tremendous opportunities exist for Canada to become a leader in the use of green technologies. In the future, our most valuable assets will be our clean water, our healthy ecology, and our natural heritage. All of these assets are in rich abundance in Canada's national parks and national marine conservation areas.

Maintaining our national parks in good ecological health has not been easy. It has required dedication and commitment on the part of Parks Canada and its partners in conservation, from environmental organizations to the scientists who have participated in collaborative research projects with the Agency. A major achievement occurred with the formation of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks, and the release of its report in January 2000. The panel not only provided a realistic picture of the threats to our national parks, and of the stressors affecting their ecological integrity, it provided a blueprint for action.

Through its report, the panel issued a challenge to Parks Canada, the federal government, and all Canadians. It urged us to take immediate action to conserve our natural heritage, and our national parks. We responded quickly and effectively. By March 2000, an action plan was in place to implement the panel's recommendations, and in early 2001 the Government made a commitment to invest in the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks.

Parks Canada has taken the lead in implementing the panel's recommendations, and in developing programs, scientific expertise, and partnerships in support of ecological integrity. The greater national park ecosystem partnership program, which recognizes that many of the stressors affecting the ecological integrity of our national parks originate outside their boundaries, is a case in point.

This publication highlights many of the ecological integrity initiatives and projects that have been undertaken in recent years. It is a book of success stories. Stories that demonstrate how effective we can be when we work together toward a common cause, and how our national parks continue to be models for environmental protection in Canada. The partnerships between Parks Canada, governments, communities, Aboriginal people and universities that have contributed to the success of our efforts to maintain or improve the ecological integrity of our national parks speak to this.

Protection is truly a shared responsibility. We can all take pride in the work we have done to maintain or improve Canada's national parks to sound ecological health, and in the work that we will do in the future. Much remains to be done, however. On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to congratulate Parks Canada on this publication, and on its leadership. Accomplishments such as the ones recounted in the following pages provide the inspiration we need to ensure that Canada's national parks will remain the wonderful places they are today, and continue to hold a special place in the hearts of Canadians for generations to come.

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The Honourable Stéphane Dion,
Minister of the Environment