News Release: Losing protection where we need it most
August 24, 2020
The Government of Alberta’s plan to remove 164 sites from the provincial parks system will take a significant cut out of Alberta’s most endangered and least protected Natural Regions: the Parkland, Grasslands and Foothills. Between these three regions, 85 sites will lose their protected status, resulting in the loss of nearly 9,000 hectares of protection – equivalent to around eight times the size of Ghost Lake or one-half the size of Elk Island National Park.
“There’s a very real risk that, once these sites are removed from the Parks system, we will lose all measures to protect their local ecosystems.” said Grace Wark, Conservation Specialist. “As we face a rapid, global decline in biodiversity, now is the time to be expanding protections in the Grasslands, Parkland and Foothills, not stripping them away.”
Under the Provincial Parks Act, these sites are currently managed for two primary purposes: the conservation of their landscapes and natural features, and to facilitate accessible recreation opportunities for Albertans. No guidelines have been released by the Government of Alberta on how these objectives will be achieved once these lands are divested to third party entities or become vacant public land.
“Even small parks and recreation areas can offer refuge for migrating wildlife, improve habitat connectivity, and prevent conversion of native prairie and foothills landscapes.” adds Wark.”The value these parks provide for Albertans and wildlife far outweigh a temporary savings of $5 million.”