Canadian Protected Areas Status Report 2012 to 2015: introduction
About the 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 areas establishment and management. There have been two previous Canadian Protected Areas Status Reports covering the periods from 2000 to 2005 and from 2006 to 2011 respectively.
This report is the third in the series and covers the period from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015. The report provides information on the current state of protected areas in Canada and recent trends. Information is provided for Canada’s protected areas system as a whole and at the federal, provincial and territorial levels respectively.
Chapter 1 focuses on the extent of Canada’s terrestrial and marine protected areas system and changes in the amount of area protected since the end of 2011. Chapter 2 focuses on protected areas planning and establishment of new protected areas and explores efforts by Canadian governments to address a number of conservation objectives. Chapter 3 focuses on management of existing protected areas. Chapter 4 focuses on the participation of Indigenous Peoples and the engagement of stakeholders in the planning and management of protected areas in Canada. Chapter 5 provides a short, detailed summary of the protected areas systems within each province and territory and in the three federal departments responsible for protected areas.
Departments and agencies that contributed to the report
The Canadian Protected Areas Status Report 2012-2015 was produced by Environment and Climate Change Canada (Charles Shulman, Susanne Emond, Courtney Robertson, Eden Thurston, Olaf Jensen, Said Akif, Amy Huang, and Chris Lauzon) in close collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada Agency, under the supervision of federal, provincial and territorial Assistant Deputy Minister members of the Conservation, Wildlife and Biodiversity Steering Group. The report is based on information and data provided by a number of government organisations (hereafter referred to as protected area organisations) and would not have been possible without the support of dedicated staff from the following organisations:
- Alberta: Parks Division, Alberta Environment and Parks
- British Columbia: BC Parks
- Manitoba: Sustainable Development (previously Conservation and Water Stewardship)
- New Brunswick: Department of Natural Resources and Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Parks and Natural Areas Division, Department of Environment and Conservation
- Northwest Territories: Conservation, Assessment, and Monitoring Division, Conservation Planning Branch
- Nova Scotia: Protected Areas and Ecosystems Branch, Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
- Nunavut: Department of Environment, Parks and Special Places Division, Government of Nunavut
- Ontario: Protected Areas Section and Ontario Parks, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry
- Prince Edward Island: Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division, PEI Department of Communities, Land and Environment
- Quebec: Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, Direction des aires protégées et ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, Direction des parcs nationaux
- Saskatchewan: Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport
- Yukon: Parks Branch and Fish and Wildlife Branch, Department of Environment
- Government of Canada: Environment and Climate Change Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Parks Canada
This report builds on the work of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas which has been instrumental in creating the mechanisms that make national level reporting on protected areas possible in Canada, including a network of federal, provincial and territorial protected areas experts, the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System database, and the status report questionnaire.
The information in this report was generated from data provided by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial protected area organisations through two main channels: the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System and the Canadian Protected Areas Status Report questionnaire. Responsibility for source data accuracy and completeness lies with the protected areas organisations.
- The Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System:
Geese in Bylot Island Migratory Bird SanctuaryPhoto: Christian Marcotte © Environment and Climate Change Canada
The Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System is a web-based, distributed network containing authoritative and up-to-date protected areas data from all federal, provincial and territorial protected area organisations. The database makes use of the International Union for Conservation of Nature protected area definition, management categories and governance types as its standardized framework for reporting and mapping, allowing inter-organisational comparisons and national protected areas reporting and mapping. The Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System is an evolution of the Canadian Conservation Areas Database, which had been managed by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas since 1998. The new system was formally launched in 2008 by Environment and Climate Change Canada (then Environment Canada) and the Council. Environment and Climate Change Canada hosts and manages the database in partnership with the Council. Annual updates are provided by federal, provincial and territorial protected area organisations to keep data current. Maps, reports and data are available from the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas’ website.
Organisations provided geospatial and/or legal boundary and attribute data for their protected areas, accurate as of December 31, 2015. This data was used to calculate the number and spatial extent of protected areas and changes over time, as well as breakdowns by International Union for Conservation of Nature management category and governance type. The results of this analysis are reflected in Chapters 1 and 5 of the report.
Notes on calculations:
- The extent of protected areas at the end of 2011 presented here have been recalculated for this report using the latest information available. Methodologies for measuring and mapping are constantly evolving and protected area organisations periodically update information on existing protected areas in order to, for example, improve the accuracy of boundaries recorded in the database. An update to boundaries may result in a change in the measured size of the protected area. In order to calculate trends between 2012 and 2015, the analysis reported here used the latest information available. As a result, there may be discrepancies between the 2011 totals reported here and those reported in previous editions of the Canadian Protected Areas Status Report.
- The percentages of terrestrial and marine area protected were calculated using a terrestrial area of Canada of 9 984 670 km2 and a marine area of 5 750 000 km2.
- The extent of protected areas (in km2 and as a percentage of total terrestrial or marine area) presented at the national, provincial and territorial level may not be equal to the sum of areas presented elsewhere in the report. Areas may be protected under more than one protected area instrument, and therefore may be under the jurisdiction of more than one organisation. To more accurately estimate the size protected within political boundaries, overlaps are removed before the measurement is made. Additionally, in order to account for different approaches used by protected area organisations to estimate the area of their protected areas, a single consistent approach was used when calculating totals at the national, provincial and territorial level. Information on protected areas by International Union for the Conservation of Nature categories and by governance type present the official area as provided by the reporting organisation and are not adjusted to correct for overlaps.
- The Canadian Protected Areas Status Report questionnaire:
A standardized questionnaire was completed by federal, provincial and territorial protected areas organisations in early 2016, with information on conditions as of December 31, 2015. In responding to the questionnaire, organisations provided information on topics including: protected areas design, planning and establishment, management, monitoring and reporting; participation of Indigenous Peoples, engagement of local communities, private landowners and other organisations in the establishment and management of protected areas; the role of protected areas in integrated landscape/seascape management; financial resources for protected areas; and, visitation. The results of the questionnaire are reflected in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the report.
This questionnaire is an integral source of information for the Canadian Protected Areas Status Report series. Many questions from previous editions of the questionnaire remain unchanged in order to enable comparison with previous results. Some questions have been edited for clarity and to facilitate responses and a few new questions have been added.
Types of protected areas reported
All of the protected areas included in this report meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s definition of a 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.Footnote1
Federal government protected areas reported here include National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, National Wildlife Areas, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, and Marine Protected Areas designated under the Oceans ActFootnote2. Provincial and territorial government protected areas are established under many different designations, including among others, Provincial and Territorial Parks, Marine Parks, Wilderness Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Ecological Reserves, Nature Reserves, Biological Reserves, Biodiversity Reserves, Natural Areas, Wilderness Areas, Habitat Protection Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, Conservancies, and Special Management Areas. In addition to government owned and managed areas, some provinces and territories also report on collaboratively managed as well as non-government protected areas including privately owned natural areas, areas protected through Indigenous land claim agreements, traditional use planning areas, and habitat protection areas, among others.
Protected areas organisations in Canada classify protected areas according to their management approach and governance regime in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s management categories and governance typologyFootnote3. While management categories have been reported previously in Canadian Protected Areas Status Reports based on official data submitted by federal, provincial and territorial protected areas organisations, governance of individual protected areas was previously interpreted based on ownership. In 2015, federal, provincial and territorial protected areas organisations officially classified their protected areas in the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System according to governance type, allowing more detailed information to be provided in this report. As the collection of this data is relatively new, it is expected that this information may not yet be comprehensive and the accuracy of this metric will continue to be improved. Information on management classification and governance type is reported in Chapter 1 and Chapter 5.
Domestic and international conservation targets refer to conservation through protected areas and “other effective area-based conservation measures”.Footnote4 At the time of writing, the definition of other effective area-based conservation measures had not been determined. However, domestic and international discussions are ongoing about what other types of conservation measures should be included along-side protected areas reporting. No other effective area-based conservation measures are included in the 2012-2015 report. In 2015, a field was added to the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System database to enable government protected areas organisations to identify such measures in future updates. Any measures added after 2015 will be reported in future editions of the Canadian Protected Areas Status Report.
Changes since the last report
This report covers a 4-year period, from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015. The first two editions covered a 6-year period, from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2005, and from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2011. The shorter period for this edition will enable the series to move to a 5-year reporting timeframe for the next report (2016 to 2020) and simultaneously align the production of the next edition with Canada’s reporting on the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada and reporting to the Convention on Biological Diversity on its contribution to the Convention’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.
Information on protected area coverage within Canada’s terrestrial and marine ecological regions is based on analysis using an updated ecological framework for Canada. The update to the existing EcozonesPlus framework improves the alignment of ecozones across jurisdictional boundaries, including provincial, territorial and international boundaries, and integrates new ecological information being used by provincial and territorial governments into the national level framework. In addition, three new ecozones have been added: Tundra Cordillera, the Yukon portion of an ecological region in Alaska; Semi-Arid Plateaux, an extension of an ecological region in the United States that stretches into southern British Columbia; and, Atlantic Highlands a new ecozone that distinguishes Quebec and New Brunswick’s highland areas from the rest of the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone. Changes were made only at the broadest level of the framework, the level of ecozones, which provides a useful level of generalization for national reporting. The update did not modify the boundaries of finer scale ecoregions or ecodistricts. The update was completed in 2014 by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments. More information can be found on the Council’s website.
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