Ecological Integrity of National Parks

Parks Canada is working to monitor ecological integrity in 42 of Canada's national parks.Footnote [1] Ecological integrity is assessed by monitoring selected measures of major park ecosystems (e.g., forest, freshwater, wetlands). Thirty-five parks had reported on the ecological integrity of at least some of their ecosystems by 2011. Of the 102 ecosystems that Parks Canada has assessed, 92% (94) are reported to be in good or fair condition. Trends are more difficult to assess, but of the 81 ecosystems with reported trends, 46 (57%) are stable or improving.

Ecological integrity status and trends of national parks, Canada, 2011

Stacked column chart

Long description

The stacked bar chart shows whether ecological integrity of ecosystems in Canada's national parks is "good", "fair" or "poor" as of 2011. Each stacked bar status provides the number of ecosystems where the trend in ecological integrity is classified as "undetermined", "declining", "stable" or "improving". The majority of the 102 ecosystems assessed (94 ecosystems) from 35 of Canada's national parks are reported to be in good or fair condition. Eighty-one of the 102 ecosystems reported trends, 46 of which are stable or improving.

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Park ecosystems include forests, freshwater, grasslands, tundra, marine and others, depending on what is present in each park.
Source: Parks Canada (2011) The State of Canada's Natural and Historic Places, 2011 Report.

Ecosystems have integrity when their components (including native species and physical elements) and processes (e.g., energy flow, nutrient and water cycles, predation) are intact.Footnote [2],Footnote [3] Although the parks are currently in generally good condition, they are affected, despite their protected status, by many of the same pressures we place on the environment in general. Parks Canada has invested in management and restoration to address a prioritized list of ecological issues.

Parks Canada identifies some of the major stressors of national parksFootnote [4] as being the following:

  • Habitat loss
  • Habitat fragmentation (e.g., building of roads)
  • Losses of large carnivores
  • Pollutants, including pesticides and air pollution
  • Invasive species
  • Climate changeFootnote [5]

The conditions of ecosystems within a park are determined by a series of monitoring measures that are designed to track biodiversity and natural processes within those ecosystems. More information about individual parks can be found in Parks Canada's State of Park Reports.

Ecological integrity status and trends of 42 national parks, Canada, 2011

Table

Long description

The table shows whether ecological integrity of ecosystems in Canada's 41 national parks is "good" (green), "fair" (yellow), "poor" (red), "not rated" (grey) or "not applicable" (no fill) as of 2011 for each park by province or territory. The ecosystems include: forests, lakes, streams/rivers, wetlands, tundra/barrens, coastal, glaciers, grasslands, marine/subtidal and other (includes badlands, Peace Athabasca Delta, intertidal zones, islets, native biodiversity, non-forest and shrublands). Trends, when available, are also provided indicating whether the ecological integrity of the ecosystem is "improving", "stable/no change" or "declining". The majority of the 102 ecosystems assessed (94 ecosystems) from 35 of Canada's national parks are reported to be in good or fair condition. Eighty-one of the 102 ecosystems reported trends, 46 of which are stable or improving.

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How this indicator was calculated

Notes:
1 These parks combine "Lakes" and "Streams and Rivers" into a single "Freshwater/Aquatic" ecosystem.
2 Though an ecological integrity status is reported, there were not enough years of data available to report an ecological integrity trend for these ecosystems.
3 Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage site.
4 Information for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks is collected together.
5 Ecosystem conditions for these parks were identified after March 31, 2009.
Source: Parks Canada (2011) The State of Canada's Natural and Historic Places, 2011 Report.

Related indicators

Other information

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This indicator is used to measure progress toward Target 4.4: Improving the Health of National Parks Improve the condition of at least one Ecological Integrity Indicator in 20 national parks by 2015 of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013–2016.

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