Declaration on the Principles of Parks Print
Earth News
Tuesday, 03 May 2005 06:25

Declaration on the Principles of ParksWells Falls, BC

Every once and a while my friends surpise me. They reach beyond the immediacy of their local circumstances and clearly define 'what it is that we should be doing' - clearly stated, well-formed and simply true - in a global context . I want to thank the wonderful folks at the Valhalla Wilderness Society for having devoted their valuable resources towards this new parks declaration (press "read more" for the text ).  This is a message that the world and its errant leaders need to hear.  Please consider signing your organization/personal endorsement of the Declaration on the Principles of Parks.          (dani, PEJ Earth Editor)

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At the turn of the previous century, amidst the rapid settlement of land, shooting of wildlife and cutting down of forests by settlers, there emerged a vision of preserving large areas of wildlands in their natural condition, with little or no modification by humans. Originally born out of the human response to scenic grandeur and wildlife, these areas are now the last refuges for many native species.

Today, scientists warn that major damage to ecosystems endangers life on this planet, including human life. Science recognizes that fully protected areas play a critical role in the survival of species. Ecologists urge that parks be kept as natural as possible, with natural ecological processes, because they are living textbooks on the science of ecosystem health.

Today, the dissonance and alienation of a troubled world, dominated by the pursuit of economic gain, encroach upon the peace and sanity of individuals and societies. Parks have become sanctuaries where the human spirit can refresh itself amidst the space, beauty, and solitude of a fully natural world. There, uninjured by industrial inroads, or the intrusions of entrepreneurial- or entertainment-based uses, nature - left undivided - teaches wholeness by the experience, itself.

These facts are the basis for the profound determination of the public - born of a sense of urgency, and asserted many times over the years - to create ample protected areas and to hold them sacred for the survival of species and for future generations of humanity.

There have always been those who claim that the purpose of parks is private economic gain. But these views misrepresent the higher human imperatives that have fought for parks, paid for them, and defended them for nearly 100 years.

Society spends many years, at great cost, weighing the economic values versus the preservation values of every park proposal. Each park represents a decision that preservation best serves the public interest. The value of living things, of their ecological life support system, of the human experience of nature and wilderness, must never again be weighed against the dollar in these sanctuaries.

We, the undersigned, wish all to know that the following tenets are the true principles that should guide park management:

1. Parks have a dual mandate: The preservation of land in its natural condition, and outdoor recreation based upon the appreciation and enjoyment of nature.

2. The goals of the dual mandate are to foster all the holistic values of completely natural areas, including: environmental health, survival of species, protection for animal and plant life, physical and spiritual health of people, tourism, cultural values and scientific knowledge.

3. Preservation is the highest form of protection for land and resources. The removal, damage or pollution of natural features are totally prohibited. This means no logging, mining, drilling, hydro development, or human settlement.

4. The only human modifications allowed are for the essential needs of public recreation and resource protection. Preservation is the source of a unique and valuable kind of recreation based upon natural attractions, with minimal commercial intrusion. Guiding businesses that provide this kind of recreation are compatible. Commercial development should be located outside of parks, where it will concentrate tourism expenditures in local communities. It is well known that this kind of recreation richly profits businesses across the land.

5. Parks are a shared, public good to be held in trust by governments, and not to be sold or privatized. This requires an institutional legacy of experienced public servants. This legacy must remain stable as governments come and go.

6. Ecosystem health and the survival of species are the top management priorities. Fully protected areas fill a universal need for health and survival that is shared by all species, cultures and generations.

7. Parks should be fully supported by taxes. The government has a duty to maintain sufficient staff and funding to manage every aspect of the park system.

8. Parks should be administered in an unbiased manner, free of conflict of interest. Private interest control through leases of park land or privatization must be avoided.

9. The public has a right to know how its parks are being managed, and to participate in open, transparent planning procedures.

10. Wilderness - large, undeveloped, roadless areas - should be maintained as wilderness in all our parks. Such areas best represent the ecological, health, and scientific values of parks, while including many intangible values of importance to people - values such as remoteness, pristine qualities, solitude, and natural quiet.

11. Parks are for perpetuity. They contain priceless biological, cultural and historical legacies. Unmaking parks or changing park laws to weaken protection violates a sacred trust belonging to all those in the past and present who fought and paid for our parks, as well as future generations. Parks laws should be changed to better honour these principles, never to undermine them.

Alberni Environmental Coalition
Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society
Applied Conservation GIS
Applied Ecological Stewardship Council of B.C.
B.C. Pathways
Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation (AB)
Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition (AB)
Canadian EarthCare Society
Canadian Reforestation and Environmental Workers Society
Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition (AB)
Chetwynd Environmental Society
Coalition to Save Forest Recreation in B.C.
Comox Valley Land Trust
Comox Valley Naturalists
Cortes Land Conservancy
Denman Conservancy Association
Environmental Investigation Agency (U.S.A./U.K.)
Federation of Mountain Clubs
Fins in the Forest
Fraser Headwaters Alliance
Friends of Caren
Friends of Clayoquot Sound
Friends of Cortes Island Society
Friends of Gabriola
Friends of Strathcona
Friends of the Nemaiah Valley
Friends of the Stikine
Friends of the Tlell
Georgia Strait Alliance
Get Bear Smart Society
Golden Outdoor Recreation Association
Granby Wilderness Society
Grand Forks Watershed Coalition
Kettle Range Conservation Group (U.S.A.)
Labour Environmental Council
North Cascades Conservation Council (U.S.A.)
North Okanagan Naturalists Club (Vernon)
Northern Ecology Watch
Northwest Ecosystem Alliance
Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society
ParkWatch (U.S.A.)
Purcell Alliance for Wilderness
Quadra Island Conservancy and Stewardship Council
Quesnel River Watershed Alliance
Raincoast Conservation Society
Salt Spring Island Conservancy
Save Our Parklands Association
Selkirk Conservation Alliance (U.S.A.)
Shuswap Environmental Action Society
Sierra Club of British Columbia
Society Promoting Environmental Conservation
South Okanagan Naturalist Club
Southside Economic Development Association
Sustainable Environment Network Society
Tetrahedron Alliance
Tuwanek Ratepayers Association
Travel Just
Valhalla Wilderness Society
West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild
Western Canada Wilderness Committee
Wild Wilderness (Oregon, U.S.A)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2005 06:25