We support effective and equitable land based conservation by revealing and transforming an inclusive and interconnected network of professionals in area-based land conservation (parks, protected, and conserved areas) who engage, learn and share expertise across jurisdictions, geographies, and knowledge systems.
The Canadian Parks, Protected, and Conserved Areas Leadership Collective (CPPCL)* was formed in 2018 by the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) and is delivered in collaboration with Mount Royal University, Royal Roads University, and the York University Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.
The primary purpose of CPPCL is to revitalize, modernize, and deliver the leadership development programs offered to member agencies of the Canadian Parks Council (CPC)—Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial park agencies and their collaborators across the parks and protected areas continuum. After nearly fifty years delivering leadership development programs that sparked individual growth and an understanding of the parks system in Canada, the 2016 CPC Personal and Professional Development Working Group called for a new approach. CPPCL was crated to facilitate applied leadership projects, ongoing inter-agency collaboration among participants, resource sharing, and accessible and transformative programs delivered alongside academic partners.
Core funding from the CPC supports a Senior Fellow, currently based at the University of British Columbia Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, to develop and facilitate programs and to maintain and establish relationships.
Fees collected from program registrations are used to deliver leadership programs and services, support this online platform, and develop new resources for current and emerging parks and protected areas leaders. The program has also benefitted from the Project Learning Tree Green Jobs Program to support the involvement of diverse young professionals as CPPCL Knowledge Gatherers who bring crucial perspectives and tremendous talent to support the collective.
CPPCL also delivers fee-for-service workshops and events, serves as an incubator for unique and pilot projects, and collaborates on or conducts grant-based research.
Significant in-kind capacity for CPPCL comes from the involvement of program alumni and the expertise of professional, community, academic and other collaborators who have joined the collective.
In 2019, with support from Parks Canada, CPPCL assembled a range of academic partners, parks and protected areas practitioners, students, and Indigenous conservation leaders to design and implement an interdisciplinary panCanadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network.
The CPPCL Research Network aims to connect across the continent while uplifting and amplifying the work of successful regional research networks, such as the BC Parks and Protected Areas Research Forum (BCPARF) and the Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA).
Focused on improving evidence-based decision-making in parks though knowledge sharing and inclusive relationship building, this network has delivered eSummits, webinars series, and has directly and indirectly supported a variety of research projects.
The research network is integrated with the CPPCL leadership programs to model evidence-based decision-making and collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and knowledge systems. Researchers and knowledge holders join programs as panelists or co-facilitators and program activities are linked to research projects, literature, and scholars.
The CPPCL research network has reduced the gap between parks and protected areas researchers and decision-makers. In time, we hope to close the gap completely, creatively, and equitably.
The global pandemic prevented CPPCL from delivering face-to-face residency programs and directly impacted the capacity and wellbeing of park leaders–all of whom were affected by COVID personally and professionally.
However, as many programs were already delivered in hybrid or remote formats to colleagues in parks and protected areas across the continent, CPPCL pivoted to online programming and created innovative ways to connect people in the landscape where they work. Virtual programming also increased the accessibility of programs for park leaders with children or other personal commitments, and from agencies facing travel restrictions.
With a growing reputation for facilitating effective nature-based online experiences and focusing on the opportunities of hybrid collaboration, CPPCL activities have actually increased during the pandemic!
Finally, while personal and organizational mental health have always been a priority area of focus for CPPCL, the pandemic reinforced our commitment to wellbeing among conservation professionals and the importance of real-life reconnection to the land and water, nature, and to each other.
The success of CPPCL has been as much about revealing a network of parks and protected areas champions as it has been about transforming and supporting them. The valuable contribution of the Youth Knowledge Gatherers offered new perspectives on the parks and protected areas narrative and demonstrated the importance of equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization in parks and protected areas organizations.
Further, nearly every program and service offered by CPPCL since 2018 has focused on the need to understand the role of parks in transformational change and decolonization and the role of all protected areas—not just parks—on the broader biocultural landscape.
In the future, CPPCL will invite more cooperation within the parks system, more collaboration among the broader protected and conserved areas community, more integration of research with practice, and more space to weave together different worldviews and knowledge systems.
*CPPCL was originally formed as CPCIL, the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership. It was renamed the Canadian Parks, Protected and Conserved Areas Leadership Collective (CPPCL) in 2022 to more proactively include leaders from all area-based conservation organizations.