New Report Shows Parks and Protected Areas are Essential to Our Lives and Economies: Alberta Government Still Needs Convincing

Edmonton, AB – A new report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) recommends that nature protection is put at the heart of Canada’s COVID-19 recovery strategies.

“Albertan’s treasure their parks and protected areas, and yet, in a year when access to nature, and the benefits it provides has become so important to so many, the Government of Alberta is actively dismantling our protected area network. ” says Chris Smith, Parks Coordinator for CPAWS Northern Alberta. Other changes to environmental regulations during the pandemic include waiving of environmental reporting and the removal of the province’s overarching coal policy. 

Earlier this year, as the pandemic was unfolding, the Government of Alberta announced that it would remove the protective designations from 164 parks, and close, or partially close 20 other sites. This decision was made without any public consultation, and has, unsurprisingly, seen significant push back from Albertans. 

The impact of these changes, which could see a loss of nearly 4,000 campsites, became especially evident when the camping reservation system crashed on opening day, despite being restricted to Albertans only.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” says Katie Morrison, Conservation Director for CPAWS Southern Alberta, “Parks and nature are part of our identity, and especially in this stressful time, have become a reprieve for our mental, and physical well-being. Access to nature has been proven to reduce stress, and improve human health. Government should be guaranteeing access to these places, not taking it away.” 

The report highlights how investment in nature would generate significant return through job creation, health benefits, and contributing to reconciliation as well as protecting critical ecosystem health that supports all life and helps tackle climate change. The Alberta government’s sweeping changes to parks are at odds with what the evidence shows and the sentiments of the Albertan public. Now is the time to consider what we want our future to look like: pristine mountains and prairies? Or coal mines and mono-cultures. 


CPAWS’ Parks Report Recommendations at a Glance

CPAWS Northern and Southern Alberta chapters recommend that the Government of Alberta: 

  1. Reverse their Optimizing Alberta Parks decision to remove the protective designation from existing parks
  2. Make land use decisions through the land use planning process
  3. Uphold their commitment to transparent decision making and robust consultation

Additional Information

Read the full CPAWS Parks Report – Healthy Nature Healthy People – A Call to Put Nature Protection at the Heart of Canada’s COVID-19 Recovery StrategiesClick Here