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Research and monitoring are essential for managing protected heritage areas, such as Canadian national parks, historic sites and landmarks. Both activities lead to a better understanding of the ecological and cultural resources of these areas and how these resources are being affected by natural changes and human-caused disturbances. Research is conducted to improve our knowledge of ecological and cultural resources. Monitoring is conducted to determine how systems and resources change over time. The Western Arctic Field Unit (WAFU) of Parks Canada uses research and monitoring to improve our understanding of ecological and cultural resources of protected heritage areas in the Western Arctic and to understand how these resources may be changing.

One challenge of implementing an effective research and monitoring program is making information about, and collected by, the program available to people. The goal of this report is to present information about research and monitoring activities conducted in protected heritage areas in the Western Arctic Field Unit to Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and co-management organizations, government agencies and the public. All research and monitoring projects conducted in 2003, and ongoing monitoring projects not conducted this year, are included in this report.

The Western Arctic Field Unit manages three national parks and the Pingo Canadian Landmark (see map below). Aulavik National Park of Canada is located on northern Banks Island and represents the Western Arctic Lowlands natural region. Ivvavik National Park of Canada is located in the northern Yukon and represents the Northern Yukon and Mackenzie Delta natural regions. Tuktut Nogait National Park of Canada is located east of the community of Paulatuk, inland from the Arctic Ocean, and represents the Tundra Hills natural region. All of these parks are relatively large compared with national parks in southern Canada, and all three represent areas of remote northern wilderness. The Pingo Canadian Landmark, the only landmark in Canada, represents the permafrost and pingo terrain of the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula.

Western Arctic Field Unit Map of 3 National Parks - Aulavik National Park, Ivvavik National Park and Tuktut Nogait National Park
Parks Canada Western Arctic Field Unit