Progress Report on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks
Monitoring and Rehabilitating Damaged Ecosystems
The Panel observed that there is a need to restore biological processes, landscape features and species where it seems reasonable that ecological integrity will be compromised without doing so. Areas requiring additional funding are fire restoration, site restoration, and ecological and atmospheric monitoring. Enhanced monitoring within national parks would allow for testing and refining indicators used in federal State of the Environment Reporting and sharing of protocols through the Ecological Assessment and Monitoring Network (EMAN).
The wide range and multi-year nature of the required mitigations strongly suggests that restoration work will be a long-term endeavour. For example, reducing the abundance of crested wheatgrass in Grasslands National Park required four years of experimental trials on small plots to arrive at a stage where large-scale treatments could be applied. Returning some of the character and function of native prairie to thousands of hectares of park land will take much longer.
The Panel contended that national parks are special places with the highest levels of natural resource protection; consequently, they should also be models of environmental sustainability with respect to park, townsite and commercial facilities.
When park infrastructure is recapitalized, improvements are made to meet current environmental standards. Leading-edge environmental technologies often exceed these standards and are typically more costly.
Parks Canada's strategy includes an approach to emphasize the greening of national park operations and infrastructure. Funds that are being sought to recapitalize existing facilities in the short term will allow us to meet existing standards. The long-term intention is for Parks Canada facilities and operational procedures to be models of leading-edge environmental management. There is an excellent opportunity to use national parks as showcase venues and proving grounds for cutting-edge environmental technologies. In particular, national park communities in future should serve as a network of exemplary environmental communities that can be showcased nationally and internationally. Parks Canada will work with other federal departments to achieve this vision through existing federal programs.