Canadian Protected Areas Status Report 2006 to 2011

Table of Contents

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This report covers the period from 2006 to 2011. Since then the federal government has launched the National Conservation Plan, which provides a national vision to advance conservation efforts across the country and includes initiatives related to protected areas.

Under the National Conservation Plan, the federal government announced additional investments of $252 million over five years in three priority areas:

Conserving Canada's lands and waters: safeguarding and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystems through conservation and stewardship actions, and supporting the creation and enjoyment of protected areas and green spaces. For example, the Government of Canada is investing $100 million over five years in the Natural Areas Conservation Program, which helps non-profit, non-government organizations secure ecologically sensitive lands, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Restoring Canada's ecosystems: supporting the restoration of degraded ecosystem, which, once restored, will provide habitat for wildlife and clean water, and are essential for the protection and recovery of species at risk.

Connecting Canadians to nature: leveraging existing successful initiatives to help foster an appreciation for nature and building a "community of stewards" among Canadians of all ages. For example, Environment Canada is investing in ten National Wildlife Areas to improve public access to infrastructure, create trails, and support low-impact uses. As individual sites are enhanced, they will be promoted in the nearby communities to encourage use by residents.

Results and updates with respect to the implementation of the National Conservation Plan will be included in the forthcoming Canadian Protected Areas Status Report, 2010-2015.


What is the canadian protected areas status report?

The Canadian Protected Areas Status Report series examines the state of terrestrial and marine protected areas in Canada, including network design, system planning, and protected area establishment and management in Canada.

This report focuses on the period 2006-2011, following up on the first Canadian Protected Areas Status Report 2000-2005 (Government of Canada, 2006) and is a collaborative effort of all provincial, territorial and federal protected area government agencies. Chapter 1 (The Numbers as of 2011), Chapter 2 (Protected Areas Planning) and Chapters 3 (Protected Areas Management) report on the status of protected areas by topic, such as their extent and diversity, protected area strategies, planning for climate change, and managing protected areas for ecological integrity. Appendix 1 provides a statistical summary and map of protected areas for each of the 17 protected areas organizations in Canada (see the list of protected area organizations, below).

Why report on protected areas?

In 1992, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Environment, Parks and Wildlife signed A Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Networks of Protected Areas. There was impressive growth in protected areas throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. In 2006, the Canadian Council of Resource Ministers approved the release of the Canadian Protected Areas Status Report 2000-2005 and endorsed an ongoing pan-Canadian assessment of the status of Canada's protected areas networks. Accordingly, the Status Reports identify emerging opportunities and priorities regarding the important role of protected areas in conserving Canada's natural capital, and document recent successes and accomplishments. They also allow Canada to examine and report on its commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992), as expressed in the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (CBD, 2004b) and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets (CBD, 2010).

Each chapter of this report introduces key relevant goals and targets from these documents. A summary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Programme of Work on Protected Areas and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets is contained in Appendix 2.

Who prepared the report?

Environment Canada coordinated development of the Status Report, based on information and data provided by Canada's 17 protected area organizations.

The report focuses on progress in protected areas planning and management from the perspective of Canada's federal, provincial and territorial protected areas organizations. The report also reflects the contributions of non-government partners to protected areas planning and management, including Aboriginal organizations and communities, conservation groups, and industry associations, from a government perspective.

Robert Hélie, Habitat Information Integration, Environment Canada, managed the development of this report. An Advisory Committee provided ongoing strategic and technical advice throughout the drafting of the report.

  • Karen Beazley, Dalhousie University
  • Tom Beechey, Ontario
  • Marc André Guertin, Université de Sherbrooke and the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association
  • Christopher Lemieux, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Nikita Lopoukhine, World Commission on Protected Areas
  • Lynn McIntyre, Canadian Land Trust Alliance
  • Jacques Perron, Quebec
  • Mary Rothfels, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Erik Val, Yukon
  • John Vandall, Saskatchewan
  • Richard Wyma, Essex Region Conservation Authority

Under the direction of the Advisory Committee, Pauline Lynch-Stewart, Lynch-Stewart & Associates, and Robert Vanderkam, Habitat Information Integration, Environment Canada, prepared the first draft of the report. Chris Lemieux, University of Waterloo, assisted in the writing of sections on protected area benefits and climate change science and adaptation. Robert Vanderkam completed all data analysis and produced the final drafts of the report. Mark Richardson prepared all maps and figures.

A Steering Committee provided high-level direction and a link to the Canadian Parks Council.

  • Robert McLean (Chair) (Canadian Wildlife Service)
  • Bruce Bateman (Ontario)
  • Brian Bawtinheimer (British Columbia)
  • Sian French (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Peter Labor (Nova Scotia)
  • David Monteith (Nunavut)
  • Charlotte Price (Manitoba)
  • Mary Rothfels (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
  • Nicole Sharma (Parks Canada Agency)
  • Erik Val (Yukon)

Protected area organizations Content Footnote1 involved in the development of this report

Organization Short form used in this report Terrestrial Marine
1.  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada AAFC -
2.  Environment Canada EC
3.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada DFO -
4.  Parks Canada Agency PCA
Organization Short form used in this report Terrestrial Marine
5.  Newfoundland and Labrador NL
6.  Prince Edward Island PE
7.  Nova Scotia NS -
8.  New Brunswick NB
9.  Quebec QC
10.  Ontario ON -
11.  Manitoba MB
12.  Saskatchewan SK -
13.  Alberta AB -
14.  British Columbia BC
15.  Yukon Territory YT -
16.  Northwest Territories NT -
17.  Nunavut NU -

Federal and Provincial/Territorial Totals

  • 17 Short form used in this report
  • 16 Terrestrial
  • 9 Marine

Text Content Footnote

Important Notes On The Report's Data

Canada's 17 protected area organizations provided two main sources of information and data for this report:

1) The Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS) database:

  • Organizations provided CARTS with geospatial boundary and attribute data (e.g., size, name and category) for protected areas, accurate as of December 31, 2011.
  • CARTS is a Web-based, distributed network containing authoritative protected areas data from all federal, provincial and territorial organizations. CARTS makes use of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area definition, management categories and governance types as its standardized framework for reporting, allowing inter-organizational comparisons and national protected areas reporting and mapping. CARTS is an evolution of the Canadian Conservation Areas Database, which had been managed by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) since 1998, and was formally launched in 2008 by Environment Canada and CCEA. CARTS is continuously updated and accessible through the CCEA website

2) Questionnaire responses:

  • Two standardized questionnaires, including one for terrestrial and freshwater protected areas and a second for marine protected areas, were completed by organizations in early 2012, accurate as of December 31, 2011.
  • The questionnaire sought to complement the CARTS data with additional information on the CBD's Programme of Work on Protected Areas topics such as protected areas policy, strategy and objectives; management and reporting; and integrated landscape and oceans management. The 2006-2011 version of the questionnaire included minimal updating of the version that was completed by organizations for the 2000-2005 Status Report.
  • Some key research reports and journal articles written during or about the reporting period and specific to the status of protected areas were also consulted to supplement the questionnaire responses and CARTS data, and to provide examples and case studies.

Interpretation of the Status Report should keep the following caveats in mind.

1) Recent introduction of CARTS:

  • This is the first Status Report that uses CARTS, the comprehensive and authoritative source for protected areas data in Canada. Data for 2005 contained in this Status Report draw from CARTS, which has been updated since the publication of the Canadian Protected Areas Status Report 2000-2005.

2) IUCN management categories:

  • Each organization categorizes its protected areas according to six IUCN protected areas management categories (Ia and Ib are considered a single category) (see IUCN Protected Area Management Categories, below). Organizations review IUCN categorization of their protected areas on an ongoing basis as a result of new guidance from the international and national communities of practice. These include, for example, IUCN Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories (Dudley, 2008), the Canadian Guidebook for the Application of IUCN Protected Area Categories (CCEA, 2008) and the Guidelines for Applying the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories to Marine Protected Areas (Day et al., 2012).
  • Protected areas may be owned and managed partially or wholly outside of government agencies. Some organizations currently report on lands and waters owned and/or managed by non-government agencies or private groups, while others are considering this. For example, organizations are assessing, in consultation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the extent to which federal and provincial community pastures and privately administered conservation lands within their province or territory meet the IUCN protected areas categories.

3) IUCN governance types:

  • Each organization also classifies protected areas by the IUCN governance types, including governance by government, shared governance, private governance, and governance by indigenous peoples and local communities (see IUCN Protected Area Governance Types, below). Currently most of the data in CARTS pertains to protected areas managed by government agencies. Some of the organizations (MB, QC, NB, PE, SK and NT) have initiated the process of recognizing other lands and waters in Canada that are non- government governance types, but it is still at an early stage.

4) Marine protected areas (MPAs):

  • While federal MPAs may be entirely marine, provincial- territorial MPAs are often identified based on the presence of a shoreline/coastal zone within a larger protected area that has an established terrestrial management regime. The concept of reporting on the marine component of this kind of protected area is new. Not all protected area management issues can be characterized as terrestrial or marine(e.g., questionnaire responses related to management plans, ecological integrity measures, and threats often pertain to the protected area writ large, rather than with the marine or terrestrial component). The reader should bear these challenges in mind when interpreting the results of this status report, and recognize that marine reporting will improve and evolve over time as MPA network planning moves forward.

Changes In This Status report, as Compared to 2005

Content from separate chapters on "private conservation lands" and "Aboriginal involvement in protected areas" and "integrated land/ocean management" in the 2006 report is presented in the chapters on protected area planning and management in this report. The status of MPAs is reported in parallel with terrestrial protected areas, rather than in a separate chapter, and there is a focus on the national MPA network as well as individual MPAs.

IUCN Protected Area Management Categories (Dudley, 2008)

IUCN Management Categories represent the intended level of protection as demonstrated by the management plan put in place by the administrators and backed by the policy and program tools. It is not a score card on the outcome or effectiveness of the management actions, although those attributes are being considered for a revised category system.

Category Ia (Strict Nature Reserve) are strictly protected areas set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/geomorphological features, where human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values. Such protected areas can serve as indispensable reference areas for scientific research and monitoring.

Category Ib (Wilderness Area) protected areas are usually large unmodified or slightly modified areas, retaining their natural character and influence, without permanent or significant human habitation, which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural condition.

Category II (National Park) protected areas are large natural or near-natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.

Category III (Natural Monument of Feature) protected areas are set aside to protect a specific natural monument, which can be a landform, sea mount, submarine cavern, geological feature such as a cave or even a living feature such as an ancient grove. They are generally quite small protected areas and often have high visitor value.

Category IV (Habitat/Species Management Area) protected areas aim to protect particular species or habitats, and management reflects this priority. Many Category IV protected areas will need regular, active interventions to address the requirements of particular species or to maintain habitats, but this is not a requirement of the category.

Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape) protected areas are where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value; and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values.

Category VI (Protected Area with Sustainable Use of Natural Resources protected areas conserve ecosystems and habitats, together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems. They are generally large, with most of the area in a natural condition, where a proportion is under sustainable natural resource management and where low-level non-industrial use of natural resources compatible with nature conservation is seen as one of the main aims of the area.

Note: These are abbreviated descriptions of the management categories. For the full descriptions and for more information, please see: PDF file

IUCN Protected Area Governance Types (Dudley, 2008)

Both the IUCN and the CBD recognize the legitimacy of a range of governance types. With respect to who holds decision-making and management authority and responsibility about protected areas, the IUCN distinguishes four broad protected area governance types.

Type A: Governance by government (at federal/ state/subnational or municipal level). A government body (such as a ministry or park agency reporting directly to the government) holds the authority, responsibility and accountability for managing the protected area, determines its conservation objectives (such as the ones that distinguish the IUCN categories), develops and enforces its management plan, and usually also owns the protected area's land, water and related resources.

Type B: Shared governance. Complex institutional mechanisms and processes are employed to share management authority and responsibility among a plurality of (formally and informally) entitled governmental and non-governmental actors. Shared governance, sometimes also referred to as co-management, comes in many forms.

Type C: Private governance. Private governance comprises protected areas under individual, cooperative, NGO or corporate control and/or ownership, and managed under not-for-profit or for-profit schemes. Typical examples are areas acquired by NGOs explicitly for conservation. Many individual landowners also pursue conservation out of respect for the land and a desire to maintain its aesthetic and ecological values.

Type D: Governance by indigenous peoples and local communities. This type includes two main subsets:

  1. indigenous peoples' areas and territories established and run by indigenous peoples; and
  2. community conserved areas established and run by local communities.

The subsets, which may not be neatly separated, apply to both sedentary and mobile peoples and communities. The IUCN defines this governance type as: protected areas where the management authority and responsibility rest with indigenous peoples and/or local communities through various forms of customary or legal, formal or informal, institutions and rules.

Note: These are abbreviated forms of the governance type descriptions. For the full descriptions and for more information, see PDF file.


Biological diversity or "biodiversity":
The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. (CBD, 1992)
The spatial planning framework for Canada's national network of MPAs is 13 ecologically defined bioregions that cover Canada's oceans and the Great Lakes. The 12 oceanic bioregions were identified through a national science advisory process that considered oceanographic and bathymetric similarities, which are important factors in defining habitats and their species. Since this Status Report considers Great Lakes as terrestrial (i.e., freshwater), the Great Lakes bioregion was not considered in this report.
The conservation of particular areas or corridors to provide physical or functional links or contiguity between core protected areas and thereby contribute to broader-scale landscape conservation. In the marine environment, connectivity in the design of an MPA network allows for linkages where protected sites benefit from larval and/or species exchanges and functional linkages from other network sites. In a connected network, individual sites benefit one another. (CBD, 2009)
Ecological integrity:
There is more than one way to define ecological integrity. A report by the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks in 2000 proposed that "an ecosystem has integrity when it is deemed characteristic for its natural region, including the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes." According to the Canada National Parks Act, it means "... a condition that is determined to be characteristic of [a park's] natural region and is likely to persist, including abiotic components and the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes." (Canada National Parks Act, 2000, in Parks Canada Agency and Canadian Parks Council, 2008)
The National Ecological Framework for Canada delineates, classifies and describes ecologically distinct areas of Canada's surface at different levels of generalization using various abiotic and biotic factors at each of the levels. This hierarchical classification evolved with seven levels of generalization. From the broadest to the smallest, they are: ecozones, ecoprovinces, ecoregions, ecodistricts, ecosections, ecosites and ecoelements. Ecoregions are subdivisions of ecoprovinces characterized by regional ecological factors. There are 194 ecoregions in Canada. (Ecological Stratification Working Group, 1995)
A category in the National Ecological Framework for Canada (see description in Ecoregions, above). Ecozones are the broadest or most general level. Canada has 15 terrestrial ecozones. (Ecological Stratification Working Group, 1995)
A dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit. (CBD, 1992)
Ecosystem services:
Ecological processes or functions having monetary or non-monetary value to individuals or society at large. There are:
  • 1) supporting services, such as productivity or biodiversity maintenance;
  • 2) provisioning services, such as food, fibre or fish;
  • 3) regulating services, such as climate regulation or carbon sequestration; and
  • 4) cultural services, such as tourism or spiritual and aesthetic appreciation. (IPCC, 2007c)
The diversity of minerals, rocks (whether "solid" or "drift"), fossils, landforms, sediments and soils, together with the natural processes that constitute the topography, landscape and the underlying structure of the Earth. (McKirdy et al., 2007)
Interim Protected Area:
A protected area (see also) that has not been permanently established but that has been given interim legal protection to protect biodiversity while final establishment is completed.
Land Trust:
A charitable organization which, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land acquisition or conservation agreements or by engaging in stewardship of such land or conservation agreements. In Quebec, land trusts are non-profit organizations that in some cases do not have charitable status. (Canadian Land Trust Alliance, 2007)
Management effectiveness:
How well a protected area is being managed; primarily the extent to which it is protecting values and achieving goals and objectives. (Hockings et al., 2006)
Canada's ocean jurisdiction, from the saltwater shoreline as determined by a 1:50 000- or better-scale map base layer to the outer edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone.
Marine organization:
The protected area organizations (see also) that report to CARTS on the marine components of their protected areas. Of the 17 protected area organizations, 9 have protected areas under their marine jurisdiction (DFO, EC, PCA, BC, MB, QC, NB, PE and NL).
Marine protected area (MPA):
Same definition as for protected area (see also), but specifically pertaining to those protected areas, or portions thereof, located in marine (see also) waters.
(Protected areas) Network:
A collection of individual protected areas that operates cooperatively and synergistically, at various spatial scales, and with a range of protection levels, in order to fulfill ecological aims more effectively and comprehensively than individual sites could alone. (WCPA and IUCN, 2007)
(Protected areas) Network design:
Networks of protected areas conform to network design criteria or properties such as those defined by the CBD for MPA network planning (Secretariat of the CBD,2009). Adherence to design properties is what distinguishes a network of protected areas from a system (as defined below).
(Protected areas) Organizations:
A government agency or department that has the authority to establish and manage protected areas for the conservation of biological diversity. These include all provincial and territorial governments as well as a number of federal departments and agencies.
(Protected areas) Planning:
Refers to the process of planning an individual protected area, a system of protected areas or a network of protected areas.
Protected area:
A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. (Dudley, 2008)
A protected areas network or system has representativity (or is representative) when it consists of areas representing all the different biogeographical subdivisions (e.g., ecologically distinct regions or habitat types) found within the larger planning area. (Secretariat of the CBD, 2009) Representation helps ensure that the full complement of species and habitats have some level of protection.
(Protected areas) System:
A collection of individual protected areas planned on a site-by-site basis to achieve site-specific conservation objectives. The Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories (Dudley, 2008) notes that the IUCN and the World Commission on Protected Areas characterize a protected area system as having five linked elements:
  • 1) representativeness, comprehensiveness and balance;
  • 2) adequacy;
  • 3) coherence and complementarity;
  • 4) consistency; and
  • 5) cost effectiveness, efficiency and equity.
Terrestrial protected areas:
Same definition as for protected area (see also), but pertaining specifically to those protected areas, or portions thereof, located on land or freshwater, including the Great Lakes.
Terrestrial organization:
The protected area organizations (see also) that report to CARTS on the terrestrial components of their protected areas. Of the 17 protected area organizations, all except Fisheries and Oceans Canada have protected areas under their terrestrial jurisdiction.


The Numbers

  • As of December 2011, Canada has protected 10.0% of its lands and freshwaters (8.7% in permanent protected areas and 1.3% in interim protected areas), an increase from 9.1% in 2005. Canada has protected 0.9% of its marine territory, an increase from 0.6% in 2005.
  • A total of 1 197 new terrestrial and marine protected areas were added to Canada's protected areas system since 2005, covering 133 888 km2. This brings the total number of Canada's protected areas to 5 922 sites in 2011.
  • Canada's terrestrial protected area system has grown by 9.4% since the last reporting period, from 908 244 km2 in 2005 to 993 242 km2 in 2011. Canada's MPA system has grown by 60.0% from 30 900 km2 in 2005 to 49 364 km2 in 2011.
  • The growth rate in the total area of the terrestrial protected area system slowed to an average of 2.8% per year in 2006-2011, from 5.3% per year in 2000-2005. In contrast, the growth rate in the total area of Canada's MPA system climbed to an average of 11.5% per year in 2006-2011, from 4.6% per year in 2000-2005.
  • The proportion of total area protected has increased in all of Canada's 15 terrestrial ecozones except for the Northern Arctic, and varies from 1.8% in the Mixedwood Plain ecozone, to an average of 11.1% across the three boreal ecozones, to 26.0% of the Arctic Cordillera ecozone. The proportion of total area protected in marine bioregions varies between 0% and 5.3%, with 10 of 12 bioregions having 2.0% protection or less.
  • The vast majority (94%) of Canada's terrestrial protected area fall into the IUCN management categories representing the highest protection levels (Ia/Ib to IV), which are intended to protect wilderness values. Categories V and VI recognize areas where human activities have created unique and sustainable environments over long time periods.
  • The federal government administers 45% of Canada's terrestrial protected areas among four agencies (PCA, EC, AAFC and Aboriginal Affairs
  • and Northern Development Canada) and over 90% of Canada's MPAs among three departments (DFO, PCA and EC). The provinces and territories administer the vast majority of the remaining area at 55% and 9%, respectively.
  • Provincial organizations are working with non- government groups to improve the recognition of privately held conservation lands as an integral component of protected area networks. Five provinces currently report private conservation lands, totalling about 1755 km2, and many organizations across Canada are working to include the contribution of private lands to their protected area strategies. Private lands do not extend into the marine environment, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada is examining what additional types of effective areas-based conservation measures could contribute to achieving marine protection objectives.
  • Aboriginal peoples have contributed to the establishment of tens of thousands of square kilometres of protected areas designated during the reporting period 2006-2011 through modern land claims, treaties, other agreements or collaborative land-use plans. However, more work needs to be done to accurately reflect this reality within protected area accounting systems.
  • Canada accounts for 5.8% of the world's terrestrial protected areas overall, up from 5.1% reported in 2005. As well, 3.4% of the world's MPAs are found in Canada, up from the 1.4% reported in 2005. Among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada ranks 2nd out of 34 in terms of the total extent of protected areas, and 26th out of 34 in terms of the percentage of lands and freshwaters protected. Canada ranks 23rd of 34 in terms of the percentage of marine waters protected.
  • Progress has been made on completing systems or networks of protected areas representative of Canada's terrestrial ecological regions and marine bioregions although much work remains. More than one third of terrestrial protected area organizations (6 of 16) have "substantially completed"textContent Footnote 1 representation of all of their natural or ecological regions. Four of 9 marine organizations have "partially completed" their representative frameworks.
  • 1 Terminology throughout the report for is taken from the questionnaire that was used to survey Canadian protected area agencies and departments.
  • When Canada's terrestrial protected areas are viewed within the National Ecological Framework for Canada, 70 of 194 ecoregions (36%) currently have at least 10% of their area protected; 38 of 194 ecoregions (20%) currently have at least 17% of their area protected.

Protected Areas Planning

  • All 17 government organizations responsible for terrestrial and/or marine protected areas in Canada have enabling legislation in place for the establishment of protected areas. Four organizations updated their legislation during 2006-2011 to recognize ecological integrity as a first priority, to commit to certain coverage targets or to create new legal protected area designations.
  • Three quarters of terrestrial protected area organizations (12 of 16) and more than half (5 of 9) of marine organizations have protected area strategies in place for the reporting period. Six organizations have advanced implementation of their terrestrial protected area strategies in the last 5 years and report substantial completion of their strategy.
  • Two organizations report substantial implementation of their MPA strategy. Protected area strategies continue to focus on representative areas, with 11 of 17 organizations identifying this as a primary objective. More than half of organizations (9 of 17) also set objectives related to protecting a proportion of their land or ocean area. Increasing attention is being given to the protection of ecological goods and services, which is a primary or secondary objective for 5 organizations.
  • Several organizations emphasized the importance of the efforts of land trusts to secure ecologically significant privately held lands.
  • Almost all organizations recognize the importance of habitat connectivity among their protected areas; however, nine organizations noted the "lack of tools to improve connectivity between existing protected areas" as a serious constraint in the terrestrial environment. Provincial organizations point out the importance of private land conservation for achieving habitat connectivity objectives, particularly in their growing urbanized regions.
  • There are 64 protected areas greater than 3000 km2, including 4 in the marine environment and 1 in the Great Lakes, which is the estimated minimum size needed to guard against biodiversity loss. This accounts for almost three quarters of the total area protected in Canada. More than two thirds of organizations (12 of 16) include a primary or secondary objective in legislation or policy to protect large, intact or unfragmented areas.
  • More than half of protected area organizations (9 of 16) plan for the conservation of inland freshwater ecosystems within their protected areas networks, up from 6 organizations that did so in 2005.
  • Most current protected area establishment planning in Canada involves working together with Aboriginal organizations and communities to conserve both biodiversity and cultural heritage, to cooperate on protected area management and to share the benefits of protected areas. Mechanisms for this involvement include modern land claims, treaties and other agreements, collaborative land use plans, and engagement and consultation processes.
  • In most organizations, leading resource industries are supporting the completion of protected area systems and networks as a means to provide certainty with respect to land use or access, and to demonstrate corporate social responsibility. Three quarters of protected area organizations (13 of 17) report ongoing working relationships in place with relevant resource sectors.
  • Most provinces and territories are working to incorporate sustainable development principles and practices into land management frameworks. Integrated land use planning processes cover an estimated 17% of the total land area in Canada and, where present, provide the principal approach to identifying where new protected areas are needed.
  • In the marine environment, integrated management planning has moved from the planning phase to the implementation phase in the five Government of Canada Large Oceans Management Areas. Three Oceans Act MPAs totalling 7878 km2-Bowie Seamount, Musquash Estuary and Tarium Niryutait- were established between 2006 and 2011 as part of this process.
  • One quarter of terrestrial organizations (4 of 16) have integrated climate change adaptation or mitigation measures into protected areas planning and management strategies, and 8 more are in the process of doing so. One third of marine organizations (3 of 9) are developing adaptation measures to integrate into network design.

Protected Areas Management

  • Two thirds of terrestrial protected area organizations (11 of 16) have policy frameworks in place for the management of their protected areas. Six of 9 MPA organizations have such policy frameworks in place.
  • Protected area organizations in Canada have developed 199 management plans since 2005, although this does not match the designation of new protected areas. Approximately 18% of protected areas have up-to-date management plans in place as of 2011, slipping from 25% in 2005.
  • Increasingly, Canadian organizations are adopting ecological integrity as a foundation for protected area management, with most organizations (13 of 16 terrestrial and 5 of 9 marine) reporting that the concept is incorporated within their agency's operating principles. However, only one third of these organizations report measures in place to monitor ecological integrity, and about one half report measures to manage for ecological integrity.
  • Protected area organizations report "incompatible use outside of protected areas" and "climate change" as the most serious threats to the ecological integrity of terrestrial protected areas. The most serious threats to MPAs are "climate change" and "interruption of natural cycles."
  • Overall, terrestrial and marine organizations rated the availability and quality of scientific and other information in support of protected areas management as "limited to good." Organizations reported that the most readily available and highest quality information pertains to "adjacent land use activities" and "natural resource inventories." They also reported that the availability of information on ecological processes, traditional ecological knowledge and invasive species occurrence is "limited."
  • The total area protected in Canada has continued to increase while funding in most organizations has stayed the same or decreased. Recent reports have expressed concern that inadequate resources have hindered the capacity of organizations to manage protected areas. Terrestrial organizations in Canada spent on average about $6.00 per ha per year on protected areas, down from about $22.00 in 2005, although expenditures for individual organizations range from less than $1.00 to almost $30.00 per ha. Financial resources for Fisheries and Oceans Canada's MPAs programs amount to roughly 1% of the amount spent on terrestrial protected area programs.
  • Less than half of Canada's protected area organizations evaluate management effectiveness. Seven terrestrial and four marine organizations employ a wide range of approaches to measure the delivery of key protected area objectives.
  • About half of protected area organizations- 8 of 16 terrestrial organizations and 5 of 9 marine organizations-confirm that they assess and report on the state of their protected areas on a systematic basis either alone or more broadly through state of the environment reporting.
  • In addition to biodiversity conservation, organizations increasingly promote protected areas for their benefits to local, regional and national economies, cultural heritage conservation, human health and well-being, climate change, clean water and other ecological services, and scientific research and education. A number of studies during 2006-2011 highlight the specific value of protected areas for a range of benefits.
  • Almost all of Canada's protected area organizations are pursuing forms of Aboriginal cooperative management, particularly in the northern territories and in provinces that have vast and remote northern areas. In northern Canada, land claims and Aboriginal interests and rights with respect to protected areas and wildlife are an essential and required component of protected area management.
  • Most organizations continue to work with communities on management decisions concerning their local protected areas. Two thirds of all protected areas organizations (12 of 17) have enshrined community participation in legislation or policy. In practice, more than half of all organizations (10 of 17) provide opportunities for community participation in management decisions at most or all of their protected areas.
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