Monday, February 22, 2010

Wild Spaces & Parks

Wild spaces and Parks are areas protected for the sake of preserving biodiversity and heritage. Canada has numerous parks, reserves, and marine conservation areas, actually 39 parks & reserves (2% land mass). However not all natural regions represented due to protective issues and private ownership of land in the south as well as unsettled land claims. The three main reasons for protected wilderness are; Tourism as parks and recreation create 3x as many jobs as forestry, Research such in the area of pharmaceuticals and arguably the most important reason being Long term economic health.

Sustainable Resource Use is not the first reason that may come to mind for creating protected Parks and Wild spaces. However, due to current fishing, agriculture and forestry practices not being very sustainable we need to study species and thei envrionments to better understand them. Pretected areas are not a perfect solution to preserving genetic diversity as Federal law only protects certain species and only when they are within protected areas. Once and animal leaves a protected area such as during migration they are unprotected.

Wapusk National Park is a prime example. Located in the Hudson Plains ecozone, 45 km south of Churchill in north-east Manitoba, Canada on the shores of Hudson Bay. It has over 3,000 years of human history including the Inuit, Cree and Dene peoples. Access to the park is limited due to its remote location and an effort to preserve the park. The name comes from the Cree word for polar bear (w√Ępask meaning "white bear"). Cape Churchill is located here and is considered the best location in the world to view and photograph wild polar bears. The only way people can access Cape Churchill however, is by helicopter or Tundra Buggy. The 11,475 km square park protects one of the world's largest known polar bear denning areas. The problem is that the park is so remote that people have a hard time getting there and even getting around the park. Public access is limited and only guides tours are allowed as people could be hurt or killed by bears if they (people) were to wander around the park freely.

Thus I come to the current Blog Reflection:
1) Can parks meet its dual mandate of access and protection?
2) How can this be achieved in Wapusk?

To answer the first question yes I believe overtime the park can meet the dual mandate. How? I am not sure. The only thing that comes to mind in fenced in trails through the park. But such trails would fragment the park and have to be patrolled constantly for people breaking out, and bears breaking in. More funding i probalbly the main thing that could help Wapusk. More funding for better access to the park and a larger number of buggy turs to increase the number of visitors and handle them.

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