Canada’s park systems are among the oldest in the world.
The National Parks of Canada are established and managed by Parks Canada Agency, the oldest Parks Service in the world. One goal of the national park service is to create a system of protected areas which represent all the distinct natural regions of the country.
Under the Canada National Parks Act, the agency is mandated to ensure ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations. The National Parks are primarily designated for conservation but are also managed for public appreciation of nature. Parks Canada manages 42 National Parks, including seven National Park Reserves (an area that has been set aside with the intention of becoming a National Park). Canada’s first National Park, Banff National Park, was established in 1885.
Provincial and territorial parks are generally created for public enjoyment and to promote discovery, while also respecting the area’s sensitive zones and keeping environmental impacts to a minimum. Other provincial protected areas, such as ecological reserves and wilderness areas, are established mainly to conserve their natural characteristics and wildlife, and are not accessible to the public.
Provincially and territorially legislated protected areas tend to be smaller than the federal ones, but exceptions exist. The level of conservation and protection among provincial protected areas is variable. Many provinces continue to allow industrial activities like logging, mining and oil and gas development within protected areas under their jurisdiction.
Regional governments and local governments also create parks; these tend to have a greater focus on recreation than conservation.
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