Alberta Parks’ Top 20 Policy and Research Questions – 2012 Workshop

Research Report

Alberta Parks’ Top 20 Policy and Research Questions – Provincial Workshop (2012)

Lars K. Hallstrom, Joyce Gould, John Parkins, Elizabeth Halpenny, and Naomi Finseth

Abstract: “Generation of priority research questions to inform Park management and conservation policy.”

Objectives: This project met multiple objectives of relevance to both the research and policy communities within the Parks Division of Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. In addition to generating a list of relevant, feasible and implementable Parks priority research, this project:

1) Identified potential gaps and innovation in public policy that will support Parks sustainability in the face of demographic/social change, economic stressors and ecological variation;
2) Contributions to “horizon scanning”- the systematic search for potential threats and opportunities.

3) Increase communication, interactions and potential collaboration between government, non-governmental and research communities and practitioners; 4) Increase the exposure and knowledge base of the research community to the policy and research priorities of both governmental and non-governmental organizations at the provincial and federal levels in Canada.

5) Generate and communicate the policy and research priorities of different levels and branches of government across those different levels and branches; &
6) Provide guidance to funders and funding agencies as to areas of priority and interest.


Alberta Parks’ Top 20 Policy and Research Questions:

  1. How does social change (in terms of values, behaviours, expectations, etc.) affect visitation to Alberta’s parks?

    1.b How is social change affecting Alberta Parks’ ability to deliver its mandate?

  2. How do: (1) the public; and (2) the provincial government define an optimal and efficiently management Park Agency, and what management, funding, and marketing and on-the-ground management practices models contribute to creating such as Agency?

  3. What are the individual/familial/community/social impacts that are provided by Alberta Parks? (e.g., economic, health, ecosystem services)

  4. What values do citizens assign to parks that ensure Alberta Parks and protected areas are retained, maintained and remain a part of our natural heritage? How should these values be assessed?

  5. What elements/aspects of a park visit, foster or inspire more environmentally active and aware citizenship?

  6. What will be/are the impacts/effects of climate change on the ecological and social systems in and immediately adjacent to Alberta Parks?

  7. What spatially-based initiatives and spatial properties are needed to optimize conservation/preservation in or adjacent to Alberta Parks now, and into the future?

  8. What tools and techniques are most effective in the restoration of species and ecosystems in Alberta Parks?

  9. Using ecological and social carrying capacity as a guide, how can Parks enhance visitor experience and prioritize the ecological well-being of provincial parks while countering negative visitor and industrial effects on being?

  10. What natural disturbance processes operate within provincial parks and how do we manage for them now and into the future?

  11. How do current land management practices in Alberta Parks influence water resources?

  12. What is Alberta Parks’ contribution to protecting biodiversity?

  13. What are the most effective interventions to foster or reinforce positive behaviours and reduce non-compliance within Alberta Parks?

  14. What are the most effective collaborative and network-based strategies for enhancing the spatial extent of Alberta Parks, while maintaining/improving relationships with neighbours?

  15. What is the role of Alberta Parks in provincial and national efforts in the management, conservation and recovery of species at risk?

  16. What are the barriers and processes for knowledge translation in Alberta Parks’ policies, decision making and practice(s)?

  17. What are the best practices for funding the conservation of natural areas and open spaces? 7

  1. How are invasive species being controlled, managed, affected or mitigated by Park’s policies and programs?

  2. In light of growing population and industrial/economic pressures in the province, is demand for recreational opportunities and natural green spaces being met by each region’s existing family of provincial parks and other conservation and/or outdoor recreational lands?

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Robert Grandjambe, “Observations from the Land: Insights from 27 Years of Trapping, Hunting and Fishing on the Alberta Landscape”

Nov. 15, 2018
Hosted by the Canadian Parks Research Network at the University of Alberta

Summary Notes

  • Rapid change – consumers demand more than is available
  • Trapping has now transformed into a more humane method and this is important to maintaining sustainability
  • People need to be more aware of the changes that will impact animals
  • Trappers try to understand the complexities of the environment and learn from previous experiences
  • Collaboration needed to manage species and ensure their continuity
  • Pine Lake – Wood Buffalo National Park
    • Set trap lines for trapping within the park – he was identified as a nuisance to parks by the park’s superintendent
    • Parks Canada claims his trap line interrupted hiking paths and an active beach
    • He was considered a commercial trapper by Parks Canada and was under surveillance. No charges
    • Court case with Parks Canada over dismantling of Robert’s trapping cabin, the loss of trapping opportunities and trapping equipment
    • Shows a mindset of the dominant society – to build bridges forward we must start off on the same path
    • According to Parks Canada, he is the only active trapper within the park – this shows the removal of Indigenous Peoples from the land
  • Attaching monetary values to trapping to manage it is not beneficial

Notes from Workshop Facilitator, Thomas Snow

  • How many people are aware things like this are happening?
  • Some policies restrict people from carrying on with their way of life (trapping, etc.)

Notes from Workshop Breakout Session

  • Indigenous voices first – guiding questions limit the conversations
  • Brady Highway – what do the settler communities want from Indigenous communities? To take away knowledge?
  • Find a place to create space for Indigenous people to lead the way in conservation
  • Tension between “taking away knowledge” and wanting to engage with Indigenous communities
  • How can a single representative from Indigenous communities speak on behalf of a large amount of people (who all have varying values and opinions)?
  • Comparing differences between communities is not productive
  • “How to make this more human for Indigenous People” – with regards to collaboration on parks management and conservation
  • Challenges with framing PR – ensuring information shared to the public is fair to everyone
  • What about revenue generation for the local Indigenous communities?
  • Creating a place for productive conversations to occur and facilitate these discussions – the communities will decide what is appropriate for conservation management

Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan

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Everyone Belongs Outside

Alberta’s parks are important to our quality of life and we are committed to making parks more accessible and inclusive so that everyone benefits from outdoor recreation and spending time in nature.  A priority of the Plan for Parks is to implement a province-wide inclusion plan to enhance visitor experiences. Everyone Belongs Outside: Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan was released in response. Alberta Parks has been working on ensuring facilities and programs are designed so that everyone’s needs are considered regardless of age, ability or disability, economic standing or other factors. 

Goals of Everyone Belongs Outside:

Improving Access: Accessibility means identifying and removing barriers through design, auditing parks and training for Alberta Parks staff. The primary goal here is to find ways to improve access in sites and experiences across Alberta’s network of parks.

Inviting Participation: It takes time to develop relationships. Moving beyond access and inviting participation requires an open mind, time and patience.

Increasing Capacity: Capacity building strategies will build the programs we have and provide opportunities to collaborate. Removing barriers and increasing capacity means more people can benefit from connecting to the natural world.