National and Provincial Parks contribute to bring an appreciation of natural beauty to Canadians and international visitors.
“The breathtaking scenery and inspiring natural surroundings in national parks provide the perfect setting for tuning into nature, learning about it, appreciating it, respecting it and pledging to protect it. Each national park is a haven for the human spirit.” www.pc.gc.ca
Canada’s parks are protected areas of wide ranging biodiversity and natural beauty. National parks are protected under the federal Canada National Parks Act from all forms of industrial development including mining, forestry, oil and natural gas exploration and development, and hydro-electric development, as well as commercially extractive activities such as sport hunting (although sport fishing is allowed).
There are now 40 national parks and reserves and over 1200 Provincial parks, as well as hundreds of ecological reserves, wilderness areas, conservation authority lands, and recreational area. Canada’s national park system is part of a global network of more than 100,000 protected areas in 120 countries and covering about 12 per cent of the planet’s surface.
As in the case of national parks, provincial parks originated at the end of the 19th century as a result of growing concern among civil servants, politicians and the general public about the depletion of natural resources, the degradation of scenic places and the need for an ever-expanding and increasingly urbanized population to have opportunities for recreation in a natural setting. Provincial parks are administered by provincial government agencies which are commonly part of departments dealing with natural resources, tourism or culture.
The total area of Canada’s national parks is more than 300,000 km2, an area over 2.2 times larger than the three Maritime Provinces, and equal to over three per cent of Canada’s landmass. The national parks range in size from Wood Buffalo, the equivalent of Switzerland, to Point Pelee, which, for its small size of 15 km2, is biologically rich.
National park reserves are established in areas affected by unresolved land claims and accepted by the Government of Canada for negotiation. These areas are designated to become national parks, but the final boundaries and other terms will only be finalized upon the resolution of the land claims. Working with Indigenous communities is key to establishing new national parks.
In 2017, all national parks and historic sites in Canada will be free to Canadians as a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.
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