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Vision and Guiding Principles

The Department's vision for protected areas is as follows: A network of areas to protect priority habitats required for the conservation of Canada's migratory birds and species at risk as well as rare or unique habitats, planned so that the network can adapt to ecological change, and managed in conjunction with other stakeholders.

Guiding Principles

Greater Snow Goose in flight, Cap Tourmente, Quebec © Suzanne Gagnon, Environment Canada

Protection First
Protection of wildlife and its habitat is the primary purpose of a protected area. All activities on protected areas, on the land or at sea, have to be considered within this priority. This is achieved through legal securement of land and regulation, permitting, enforcement, assessment and monitoring as prescribed in management plans.

Science at the Core of Protected Areas Planning and Management
Science provides the foundation of network planning and protected areas designation and management. Knowledge of the wildlife, habitats and ecosystems to be conserved forms the core of the foundation while social, economic and political considerations along with Aboriginal traditional knowledge provides additional layers of important contextual information.

A Network Designed to Complement Other Conservation Actions
The Environment Canada network is designed to complement the full range of Canadian protected areas and stewardship arrangements. Environment Canada recognizes that its network is a subset of larger national and international networks created by governments and non-governmental organizations with different agendas and criteria guiding the selection of areas for protection.

A Network Designed and Managed to Adapt to Future Ecological Change
The protected areas network is designed and managed to adapt to future ecological change including changes expected to occur as a result of global warming. This requires that planning take into account both spatial and temporal ecological scales, and adopting an adaptive approach to conservation where new knowledge is collected to inform conservation planning in an iterative manner.

Ecosystem-Based Management of Protected Areas
Environment Canada recognizes the benefits of using an ecosystem approach in the planning and management of its protected areas where they are considered integral parts of broader landscapes managed by individuals and organizations, and to which they also provide ecological goods and services.

Working with Others
Environment Canada works with Aboriginal peoples, communities, partner organizations and other governments and federal departments to enhance compliance and protection, to complement capacities and to foster education about wildlife conservation.