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Parks and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered parks and protected areas mandates and operations.  Various responses and guidelines have been made to overcome challenges and maintain sustainable operations. This page compiles pan-canadian responses and policies, as well as external resources that may enhance park leadership and management in response to Covid-19.  In addition, a Capstone Project developed throughout the CPCIL Leadership Development Program, has further defined parks and protected areas’ role in recovery.

Canadian Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Park Agency Responses

Resources for Connecting People with Parks During Restrictions

Arkansas  State Parks “Social ‘Physical’ Distancing”

Lethbridge Parks, Alberta “Outside is Open”

Tennessee State Parks “Tips for Visiting Safely After a Park Reopens”

COVID-19 Beyond CPC Agencies

Basecamp Conversations

“Free online meetings designed for us to gather, support each other and explore ways to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on Led Outdoor Activities (and other programs in general). 

Just like the Summit gathering in Gatineau, these Basecamp Conversations are meant to be active and participatory processes. Please come ready to be part of the problem-solving process and be a positive contributor to the National Outdoor Community.”

Link to statement and resources

“Past crises have proven that parks and recreation are one of the first and most crucial services to return to communities. Parks and recreation play a critical role in the mental and physical health recovery of citizens and play an equally important role in community economic revival. Access to recreation facilities and programs is a fundamental service for Canadians that will usher in a return of normalcy after COVID-19 — especially for children and seniors.”

IUCN COVID Resources

This page collects IUCN resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the relationship between nature and human health.

COVID-19 Information Page

“The National Park Service is modifying its operations on a park-by-park basis in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities. While most facilities and events are closed or canceled, outdoor spaces in some parks remain accessible to the public. Before visiting, please check with individual parks regarding changes to park operations.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and national emergency, many of America’s State Parks have closed facilities, access and in some cases the whole park.  Some states have closed all the parks entirely.  As the changes are so dynamic day to day, please check each official parks website for each state for the current status. Those web links are available at www.StateParks.org

NRPA Response

National Recreation and Parks Association (US) Response to COVID-19 – resources and policy statements

“Welcome to the #NatureForAll Discovery Zone. Curated from #NatureForAll partner resources, and ranging from videos to lesson plans, comic books to coloring books, this collection will help you connect people with nature, instill love of nature and learn about nature wherever you are. “

Outdoor Play Canada Response to COVID-19

“Many have struggled to access the outdoors, parks, and nature as a result of physical distancing regulations instituted across the country in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak. Most Provincial and National parks are closed or are difficult to access. At the municipal level, many parks have either closed completely, or are limited to ‘walk-through only’ access to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Reopening Canada to the Outdoors and Nature

IUCN World Conservation Congress

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of participants and visitors, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the French government have decided to postpone the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020. Previously scheduled for 11 to 19 June 2020, it will now take place from 7 to 15 January 2021 in Marseille. “

#NatureNeverCloses

Statement on Natural Benefits of Public Parks and Green Spaces

World Urban Parks COVID Resources

“We’re certainly grappling with all these changes. We hope it’s comforting to know you are not dealing with this alone.

As you continue to adjust, we wanted to provide you with some activities and ideas that you may find useful and even fun. We hope you enjoy these opportunities to learn about and explore our world—and continue to make a difference—from home.”

WWF has compiled resources for connecting with nature during COVID-19 pandemic. 

Publications and Research

Impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on biodiversity conservation

Corlett, Richard T., et al. “Impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on biodiversity conservation.” Biological Conservation (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108571.

Higgins-Desbiolles, Freya. “Socialising tourism for social and ecological justice after COVID-19.” Tourism Geographies(2020): 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2020.1757748

The Rules for Going Outdoors During Coronavirus
How to recreate responsibly and safely through the COVID-19 pandemic

Outside Magazine

More Time Out in Nature Is an Unexpected Benefit of the COVID-19 Sheltering Rules
Exploring the natural world can be restorative to mental health

Scientific American

Green spaces crucial, but a challenge says 2020 Parks Report

The report looks at challenges and opportunities for Canada’s parks under a COVID-19 lens

Canadian Geographic

Capstone Project (Fall 2020):
Parks as Essential, Accessible & Prepared

The purpose of this capstone project was to provide context to a conversation about the essential nature of parks and
protected areas in relation to individuals and society during a time of challenge.

This infographic is intended to be an exploration of what this pandemic has taught us about ourselves and provoke an evolution of how parks and protected areas can be managed into the future.

ISSUE(S):

  • The covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role parks and protected areas play in the
    mental and physical well-being of Canadians.
  • In Canada, during the first wave of the pandemic (March – June 2020) parks and protected areas shut down, consistent with non-essential services across the country. The subsequent demand for access to and increased use of parks throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic may demonstrate a shift in society’s reliance on and expectations for access to nature through
    parks.

SUMMARY:

  • The connection between nature, well-being and health has never been more apparent than during the covid-19 pandemic. This pandemic has illuminated the significance of nature and how it connects us to what is fundamentally most important to us all including both physical and mental health, self and spirituality, and a sense of belonging and community.
  • Parks and Protected Areas across Canada and around the world saw surges in the
    number of visitors post spring 2020 lockdowns, and there was a collective recognition of the benefits that access to nature provides towards human health and well-being.
  • Throughout the year, a lot has been written about the importance of access to nature during the pandemic. This project has involved compiling what we have learned, and framing that in a Canadian context.
  • This has led to the identification of three (3) paths, outlined as questions, for deeper dialogue and understanding around Health; Accessibility; and Preparedness.

Prepared by:
Capstone Team D, April 2021
CPCIL-Park Leaders Development Program, Fall 2020

  •  Mireille Boulianne –  Sépaq, Québec
  • Andrew Boyne – Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
  • Tara Crandlemere – Nova Scotia Parks
  • Jennifer Duquette – Parks Canada Agency, Ontario
  • Jackie Zinger – Parks Canada Agency, Yukon
  • Briana Hamilton – CPCIL

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