Parks and protected areas

Canadians have been inspired for generations by the wonder and mystery of their natural environment. As development put pressure on our natural spaces over time, protecting them became imperative. Today, we have 46 National Parks and Park Reserves, 4 National Marine Conservation Areas, and 146 National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries that span diverse ecosystems across the country. Canadians can survey the wide, yellow vistas of Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, or the deep fjords of Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador. By protecting our lands and oceans we help fight and mitigate the effects of climate change. They act as massive carbon sinks absorbing emissions that would otherwise heat our planet and provide refuge and/or migration corridors for native species.

Learn more about parks and protected areas and climate change

What success will look like

José and Alejandro

José and Alejandro are planning a well-deserved vacation. At first, they were planning to fly to Europe. But then they heard that Canada is Lonely Planet’s top travel destination for 2017. They’re also impressed by the photos they’ve seen of Canada’s national parks, and by Canada’s work to protect the environment. They decide to vacation in Canada. Tourism strengthens Canada’s economy and means more jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Key facts and figures

  • The total area Canada has protected in the last 20 years has increased by 70%.
  • As of 2015, 10.6% of our terrestrial areas were protected, and about 1% of our vast marine areas.
  • By 2020, Canada aims to protect at least17% of its terrestrial areas, and 10%of its marine areas.
  • Parks and wilderness preserves, act as important carbon sinks. By preserving swaths of land we prevent deforestation and maintain those carbon sinks.Marine Protected Areas are also important carbon sinks. Overall, our oceans store more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans emit.
  • The Arctic is another important carbon sink. Today, it accounts for up to 25%of Earths carbon sink. But it is at risk. Permafrost is melting at unprecedented rates and releasing large amounts of carbon.
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