Government of Canada and China renew joint commitment to protecting nature

News release

Minister McKenna visits Giant Panda National Park to announce twinning agreement with Jasper and Elk National Parks, as part of renewed Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations

October 31, 2018                             Chengdu, China                   Parks Canada Agency

Canadians know that quality of life today and their economic success tomorrow rest on the commitments we make to protect Canada’s nature, parks and wild spaces, preserving a healthy environment for future generations of Canadians. Protected areas are one of our most treasured resources, for which we are internationally recognized. In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada made a historic commitment to protecting nature through its Nature Legacy.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, along with Li Chunliang, Vice Administrator for the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of the People’s Republic of China announced a twinning agreement between Canada’s Jasper and Elk Island National Parks and China’s Giant Panda National Park. This twinning is the result of a renewed Memorandum of Understanding between Parks Canada and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration that was signed on September 21, 2018. Canada’s parks system is internationally recognized and we have been pleased to receive several Chinese delegations interested in studying it.

Twinning will promote bilateral cooperation and exchanges for the mutual benefit of all three parks, which have an important role in habitat protection and the conservation of iconic species. In the late 19th century, plains bison were on the brink of extinction, but thanks, in significant measure, to the conservation efforts of Parks Canada and Elk Island National Park, the species is returning to the wild. Similarly, Giant Pandas were under threat of extinction in the latter part of the 20th century but as a result of China’s dedication to conservation the Giant Panda population is on the way to recovery.

The Memorandum of Understanding focuses on the establishment, management and promotion of protected areas in both countries. It will further the sharing of information and best practices related to mutual topics of interest such as: national park system planning, policy and legislation, ecological monitoring and reporting, visitor experience, sustainable tourism, and responsible economic development in and around parks.

2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism – a time for Canada and China to strengthen the people-to-people ties that connect our nations. This year has provided an opportunity to highlight the best of both countries and help Canada grow its tourism sector, which supports many middle-class jobs from coast to coast to coast.


“Nature is central to the cultures of Canada and of China – it’s part of our heritage, improves our quality of life, and is a source of our future prosperity. Both countries recognize that protected nature is essential for preserving and restoring healthy and resilient ecosystems that support healthy wildlife and the recovery of species at risk. Through this bilateral cooperation, we will help advance the global 2020 biodiversity conservation commitments and protect our environment for future generations.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“In the establishment of national parks, we are eager to learn from countries with advanced practice and experience, including Canada. I am delighted with the relationship that has already been established between China and Canada in regards to natural conservation. This partnership agreement will further communications and exchanges between Giant Panda National Park and the partner parks of Canada in various areas for the mutual benefit of both countries.”

Li Chunliang
Vice Administrator, National Forestry and Grassland Administration of the People’s Republic of China

Quick facts

  • Parks Canada protects a vast network of natural and heritage places that include 46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas and one national urban park.

  • Jasper National Park was selected for twinning with Giant Panda National Park as it is one of Canada’s most iconic national parks and plays an important role in large landscape conservation and ecological connectivity, which are also critical for Giant Panda National Park.

  • Elk Island National Park was selected for twinning with the Giant Panda National Park due to its role in the recovery, re-introduction, and management of large mammals. The park is the centre of bison conservation in Canada - because of their high genetic diversity and long history of disease-free status, Elk Island National Park serves as the origin herd for plains and wood bison conservation initiatives all across North America, including the Banff bison reintroduction

  • Giant Panda National Park of China, officially launched as a pilot project by the Chinese government in January 2017, extends across Sichuan, Shanxi and Gansu Provinces, including Minshan, Qionglaishan, Daxiangling and Qinling Mountains, with a total area of 27,100 square kilometers. It protects a variety of ecosystems such as glaciers, rivers, forests and meadows, as well as rare and endangered wildlife species such as giant pandas, golden monkeys, clouded leopards, crested ibis, Chinese yew and Chinese dove tree. In 2006, Sichuan Giant Panda habitat (including Wolong Nature Reserve which is within the Giant Panda National Park pilot area) was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Associated links


Caroline Thériault
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

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