Alberta Parks Management

The Alberta government  is reviewing and updating their parks system legislation.  They intend to compile and streamline three Acts dealing with provincial parks, wilderness areas, and heritage lands.  Highlights of the proposed legislation can be found on their website.

AWA LogoThe Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) wrote the Minister of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture, and posted their letter on their website.  The letter is especially interesting because its main points summarize proper protected area management, and are applicable worldwide.

AWA believes that the legislation should include emphasis on the role that a parks and protected areas network would play in protecting or improving ecological integrity in Alberta.  Considering that under 2% of the land in three of Alberta’s six Natural Regions has protection, and some lack management plans, AWA is advocating committing resources to completing a protected area.

Lake MoraineA park’s or protected area’s first priority should be to preserve the ecological integrity – human activities should be limited accordingly.  In a 2008 survey, 72.7% of Albertans reported that they think there should be increased investment for more land to be set aside to protect natural areas in an undisturbed state.  There should be no motorized or industrial access to existing Wildland Parks.  Protection should also be prioritized over recreation.

Species at risk and their habitat must be viewed as important and their needs met.  All concerned government departments should support wildlife and wildlands protection, and the public should be consulted rather than simply notified.

Prairie DogProtected area legislation must include specific measures to protect species at risk and their habitat.  Legislation must be science-based, and governments must be committed to providing sufficient funding to support scientific research.  Clear rules and regulations, adequate levels of enforcement staffing, and proper signage and related visitor education about the park’s purpose or allowed activities should exist.

In Alberta, the current system of naming areas “Recreation Area” or “Wilderness Area” suggests their intended use, whereas the legislation suggests using a similar name for all areas.

I was thinking that the letter has good conservation principles, then I noticed who wrote it – Conservation Specialist Nigel Douglas.  Hopefully the Alberta government will listen to him.

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Alison Wheatley

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