Introduction

Canada's national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas are among the nation's greatest treasures. These remarkable natural and historic places are a source of pride to Canadians and have emerged as an integral part of our collective identity. They are also an enduring legacy for generations to come.

Parks Canada as the proud steward of these heritage places protects and presents them for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians, while ensuring that they remain unimpaired for present and future generations. In order to make informed decisions to secure their future, it is important that Parks Canada regularly take stock of the state of these heritage places.

This report fulfills the obligation in the Parks Canada Agency Act to report to the Minister on the state of Canada's national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservations areas. The first State of the Parks report was tabled in 1990. Subsequent reports cover the full range of Parks Canada's heritage places.

The State of Canada's Natural and Historic Places 2011 report has two main sections. The first provides readers with the state of the heritage place systems. It documents the progress made towards establishing representative systems of protected natural and historic places.

The second section provides a snapshot of the state of our natural and historic places. In a similar fashion to how temperature and blood pressure provide a doctor with an indication of a patient's health, and the Gross Domestic Product and unemployment rate give an indication of the state of a country's economy, Parks Canada uses indicators to measure and communicate the state of the heritage places it is entrusted to protect. These include indicators such as the trend in visitation, the health of forest ecosystems, the status of assets, and the condition of cultural resources (Figure 1).

Parks Canada monitors seven categories of indicators, which together tell the story of the state of heritage places. For each category, the report provides a context, summarizes the current state and trend of associated indicators, highlights what actions have been taken over the last few years (April 1, 2009-March 31, 2011) to improve or maintain that state, and analyses of relevant issues. These issues will provide a basis for a collective understanding among decision-makers in the federal government, stakeholders and partners, and the general public as we embark together into the second century of managing these places.

Figure 1: Parks Canada's Indicator Suite
Figure 1: Parks Canada's Indicator Suite
© Parks Canada

Legend - Indicator Themes

Icon for Visitor Experience Visitor Experience Icon for Public Appreciation and Support Public Appreciation and Support
Icon for Assets Assets Icon for Aboriginal Relationships Aboriginal Relationships
Icon for Ecological Integrity Ecological Integrity Icon for National Marine Conservation Area Health National Marine Conservation Area Health
Icon for Cultural Resources Cultural Resources
* Suite of indicators in development

[text version]



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