Fire / Feu


Français Ici

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author:
Harold Eidsvik


(photo: Panel site)

 

 

The Tide is Turning

Harold Eidsvik
Consultant to the Panel on
Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks
October 1999

 

ver since the United States created the first national park in the world - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, in 1872 - national parks have been created for the education and enjoyment of people.


(photo: NBEN-RENB)

==========

Fundy National Park

==========

Until the 1970s, most conservation efforts focused on rare, endangered and threatened species and, for the most part, paid little attention to habitat. Funding campaigns under the umbrella of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) targeted species such as elephants, rhinos, gorillas, orangutans, and koalas.

Only in recent years has the focus shifted to saving habitat or ecosystem, which suggests the tide is turning toward a broader concept of conservation. Dan Janzen, in Guanacaseo, Costa Rica, was among the first to integrate rural conservation and ecosystem protection in the 1980s.

"Use without impairment," has been the underlying theme of most national parks in the world for the past 130 years. But use without impairment is an oxymoron – an unattainable goal. Although the use without impairment theme still exists in Canadian legislation, things are changing.

Canada is the only country in the world to officially acknowledge that "management to retain ecological integrity" is key to ensuring the future of our parks, future of our natural landscape. This new direction represents a challenging shift in park policy, a shift that incorporates solid scientific research into parks planning.


(photo: NBEN-RENB)

==========

Fundy National Park

==========

The establishment of a balance, however, is difficult and while at the world-wide level the International Biological Program of 1968 raised the profile of science, it somehow neglected people. Its rebirth in UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program is still struggling to find the right mix of science, people, and socio-economic considerations to become stable at the local level.

UNESCO'S Biosphere Reserve program is also used around the world to expand conservation objectives to lands adjacent to protected areas – thus moving parks from "islands to networks". These networks integrate management objectives of protected areas with those of adjacent lands. Common interests are identified and community involvement is enhanced. Thus, the "protected island" becomes a part of a greater ecosystem.

I was asked recently how Germany conserves its natural areas in the face of so much population pressure. The simple answer is that they don't. One possible exception being the Bayerischerwald National Park, the only area where the German foresters leave the forests ungroomed and natural.

Who exports the most nature-orientated tourists in the world? Germany. Northern Canada, Alaska and British Columbia are continuing to provide a wilderness experience for thousands of Germans who can't find it at home. At a 1990 conference in Perth, Australia, much to the chagrin of my wildlife colleagues, I said, "save the habitat and the species will look after themselves." National parks do this. We have come a long way, yet the road ahead is long with many threats which, unless controlled, could lead to the destabilization of one of the world's great conservation tools and mechanisms for socio-economic development and ecotourism our national parks.

We have a long way to go in Canada to ensure that we retain representative and unique protected areas. But things are changing. 
The tide is turning.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Harold Eidsvik, is the former director of policy for Parks Canada. He served as the chair of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas from 1983-1990. He currently heads Protected Areas Consulting Services International and is living in Sidney, British Columbia. He serves as an international advisor to the panel.

 

Originally published:  Panel on Ecological Integrity of
Canada’s National Parks
  Newsletter Vol.1. No.2. May 1999