Progress Report on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks
Building Partnerships in Support of Ecological Integrity
Throughout its report, the Panel recommended working cooperatively with governments, organizations and individuals (e.g. contracting with science institutes and universities to carry out research, jointly developing programs with heritage tourism operators to deliver conservation messages). However, in two instances, the Panel felt it was necessary to establish discrete funding sources to support partnerships: one in support of regional integration; the other to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal peoples.
Approximately 85 percent of the stresses affecting national parks are at least regional in scope and originate outside the national parks. In addition, significant elements of national parks' ecosystems, such as wildlife migration routes, extend beyond park boundaries. For these reasons, the ecological integrity of national parks can be maintained only by working within a greater ecosystem context. Such mechanisms as biosphere reserves and model forests are valuable for bringing people together to discuss ecosystem issues, and Parks Canada is seeking funding to sustain working relationships with community associations, volunteers and other conservation organizations to share scientific expertise and undertake concrete actions. Parks Canada needs additional resources to be able to expand efforts to work effectively with partners on a regional ecosystem basis.
While Parks Canada has greatly expanded its relationships with Aboriginal peoples, the Panel has recognized the need to go further. Thus, it recommends additional new funding to accelerate and sustain collaboration. This, too, is part of Parks Canada's long-term strategy. With new funds, the first priority would be to build effective ecological integrity partnerships through a process of healing, education and cultural awareness. Workshops and gatherings would be held to develop a shared vision for managing national parks and embracing nearby Aboriginal communities as a part of greater ecosystems. Cooperation on educational projects would involve public education about the role of Aboriginal peoples in ecosystems, Parks Canada staff awareness about Aboriginal culture and its role in ecological integrity and Aboriginal communities' awareness about ecosystem issues. With these building blocks in place, opportunities for Aboriginal communities to be engaged in ecosystem issues would be pursued.