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Indicators
  Sulphur Dioxides
  Nitrogen Dioxides
  Volatile Organic Compounds
  Carbon Monoxide
  Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  Water Consumption
  Municipal Sewage Treatment
  Energy Consumption
  Energy Efficiency
  Municipal Waste
  Recycling
  Hazardous Waste
  Nuclear Waste
  Ozone Depletion
  Pesticide Use
  Fertilizer Use
  Livestock
  Species at Risk
  Protected Areas
  Fisheries
  Forests
  Road Vehicles
  Distance Traveled
  Population
  Official Development Assistance
   

 

 

BIODIVERSITY:
Protected Areas

A protected area is a geographic region in which certain activities that cause ecological damage are restricted or prohibited. Originally created to promote recreation and tourism, protected areas are now viewed as critical wildlife conservation areas – the modern equivalent of Noah’s Ark. The primary goals of protected areas are to maintain biodiversity, allow ecological processes to continue and provide recreational opportunities.

Protected areas in Canada include national parks, provincial parks, ecological reserves, wildlife management areas and conservation areas.

It is important to recognize that parks are not a panacea for conserving biodiversity. According to Environment Canada, “protected areas are increasingly affected by habitat fragmentation and alteration due to the effects of development, competition and disease from exotic or non-native plant and animal species and pressures from tourism and recreational facilities.”31 Parks Canada admits that 38 out of Canada’s 39 national parks are suffering from serious ecological stresses.32

Canada’s OECD Ranking
With 9.6% of Canada’s land mass protected, Canada places 13th out of 29 OECD nations, below the OECD average of 12.6%. The United States, New Zealand, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have protected a larger proportion of their national territory than Canada.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has a classification system for protected areas that includes six categories. Categories I-III are areas where industrial resource extraction activities (mining, logging, hydroelectric dams, oil and gas exploration) are strictly prohibited. Categories IV-VI are areas where looser standards apply. If one looks at the percentage of land in the IUCN’s strict conservation categories, Canada’s performance is less impressive, falling to 4.32% protected. This is largely because many provinces continue to allow industrial activities like logging, mining and oil and gas development within protected areas under their jurisdiction.

Trends
Although the OECD does not provide historical protected area information, Canada has made significant strides in recent decades at both the federal and provincial levels. The percentage of Canada that is protected has risen from 5.5% in the early 1980s to 9.6% in the late 1990s.33

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