What is the park doing to help reduce ecosystem stressors?
Cape Breton Highlands National Park tries to help reduce human impacts and ecosystem stressors in a number of ways:
- Research and Monitoring - Research and monitoring projects which focus on particularly sensitive species of animals and plants are being carried out in the park. For example, amphibians are especially sensitive to toxins in water, so we monitor our amphibian populations. Birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles and owls, are also good indicators of the health of the ecosystem because toxins tend to build up in animals at the top of the food chain. Lichens in the Grande Anse Valley are being inventoried because they are in decline and it is suspected that exhaust from passing cars is responsible. In conjunction with this, ozone monitoring is taking place.
- Prevention of potential ecosystem stressors - The park tries to prevent damage to the part of the northern Cape Breton ecosystem which it protects by limiting the sorts of activities that can be carried out within it. The park has been divided up into different zones which require different levels of protection to prevent damage or destruction.
- Rehabilitation of damaged habitat - The rehabilitation of the Skyline Trail is an example of this. It is one of the most popular trails in the park and had been hiked by so many people that delicate headland vegetation had been destroyed. It now has a boardwalk to prevent further damage to the environment. The earth that had been stripped bare has been replanted with native vegetation from the site of the boardwalk. It is now illegal to leave the boardwalk while visiting the Skyline Trail.
- Management of natural resources - The park manages its natural resources as well as possible given current levels of knowledge. For example, management of fish resources has resulted in the reduction of the sport salmon fishery within the park to catch-and-release only to prevent complete destruction of the Atlantic salmon population. It also resulted in the reduction of the daily bag limit of trout for similar reasons.
- Encouraging "green" practices - Cape Breton Highlands National Park encourages its employees to be environmentally conscious. The park actively tries to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever feasible and has had a Green Committee since 1990. The Green Committee promotes environmental awareness, encourages employees to support "green" efforts and provides park management with suggestions for improving the park's environmental practices. Every year the Green Committee organizes a park clean-up day. In addition to the work the Green Committee does, many of our employees have developed their own green initiatives. The park garages, for example, recycle antifreeze and our carpenter shops recycle wood. The Highlands Links golf course was recently certified as an Audubon Golf Course Sanctuary for its green practices.