Progress Report on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks
An Overview of Parks Canada's Long-Term Strategy
Parks Canada has developed a long-term strategy for government consideration as part of the normal budget process. The strategy flows directly from the Panel's recommendations. Priority elements of Parks Canada's strategy are as follows:
Improving Operational Capacity
The Panel concluded that Parks Canada is critically under capacity in both the natural and social sciences and, therefore, cannot be confident of the degree of certainty related to ecological integrity decisions or the inherent risks.
The most effective way to deal with the uncertainty of nature is through the use of adaptive management. This approach requires that scientists be part of management teams to design management strategies as controlled experiments, predict their outcomes, monitor changes over the short and long term, and make modifications based on the knowledge gained to achieve desired results.
Monitoring and adaptation must be done continuously and in a timely way, varying from multi-year for human use management and impact mitigation, to hour to hour for fire or wildlife management. This cannot be achieved using only external expertise. For these reasons, Parks Canada's core science and technology capacities must be enhanced to provide for:
- updating and maintaining resource inventories and baseline data;
- identifying ecological integrity indicators, benchmarks and targets;
- monitoring, analyzing and providing advice to decision makers;
- incorporating ecological integrity considerations into park management plans;
- exercising a knowledgeable client role to identify the need for, supervise and evaluate contracted research and active management;
- undertaking sufficient applied research into specific threats to maintain up-to-date knowledge and develop career skills;
- assessing environmental impacts to ensure no net negative environmental impacts within townsites; and
- developing greater ecosystem partnerships by building relationships, assessing emerging issues, identifying specific project needs and evaluating results.
This enhanced capacity would provide Parks Canada with the ability to join Environment Canada and other science departments as full partners of cooperative projects such as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and model forests. This enhanced capacity would also result in more timely and comprehensive advice in establishing the federal family of protected areas and their role as contributors to large scale ecosystem based proposals.