Message from the Minister
Our Government is committed to expanding Canada’s system of protected areas and protecting its biodiversity, by conserving at least 17 per cent of our land and freshwater through a network of parks, protected and conserved areas, and other conservation measures by 2020, an objective known as Pathway to Target 1. We are also working to conserve at least 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2020.
In 2017, I initiated Let’s Talk Parks, Canada! – the largest public consultation ever undertaken by a Minister responsible for Parks Canada. This was an opportunity to engage with Canadians on Canada’s system of protected natural and cultural places. Recently, I put forward several priorities: to protect and restore our national parks and historic sites; to enable people to further discover and connect with our national parks and heritage; and to sustain for generations to come the incredible value – both ecological and economic – that our national parks and historic sites provide for communities.
Parks Canada’s places represent the very best that Canada has to offer and tell the stories of who we are. They also protect biodiversity, preserve our clean air and water, and play an important role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. However, the ecological integrity of national parks and marine conservation areas can be threatened by a wide variety of stresses, such as threats from invasive species and problems caused by public infrastructure. If we want to conserve these special places, now and for future generations, we must restore critical ecosystems and contribute to the recovery of species-at-risk.
The Conservation and Restoration (CoRe) projects highlighted in A natural priority – A report on Parks Canada’s Conservation and Restoration Program demonstrate how Parks Canada is working to protect ecological integrity as a first priority. The CoRe Program also illustrates the Government’s commitment to science and Indigenous knowledge as the foundation for conservation action. Many CoRe projects also contribute to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples. Parks Canada places provide a backdrop to Indigenous history, cultures and traditions, and remind us that we have a collective responsibility to protect the natural world.
CoRe projects are benefitting ecosystems across our country, from restoring the boreal forest in Terra Nova National Park to reconnecting the lakes and rivers of La Mauricie National Park and helping species-at-risk recover in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. But CoRe projects do more than restore ecosystems – they also engage and benefit Canadians. Events like the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation Camp in Prince Albert National Park help Indigenous elders and youth reconnect with their traditional lands and waters. Visitors experience nature first-hand and make lasting memories through programs such as Swim with Salmon in Fundy National Park. Children learn about the environment through interactive exhibits like Sharing Space with Wildlife at Science World in Vancouver.
Through Budget 2018, our Government committed $1.3 billion to protect Canada’s nature, parks and wildlife. This historic investment will help Parks Canada renew and enhance its efforts to protect species-at-risk, support biodiversity and conserve ecosystems.
CoRe projects are fundamental to the mandate of Parks Canada and demonstrate what can be accomplished when we are committed to protecting these national treasures. I would like to thank all of the Parks Canada team members, along with Indigenous communities, partners, volunteers and all others involved in CoRe projects. The work you do is creating a true legacy for our children and grandchildren.
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada