A Declaration on the Principles of Parks

At the turn of the previous century, amidst the rapid development of land, trapping and shooting of wildlife and cutting down of forests, there emerged a vision of preserving large areas of wildlands in their natural condition, with little or no modification by humans. This declaration concerns all such wildland protected areas, which are referred to herein as “parks” or “protected areas.”

Originally created for their scenic grandeur and wilderness, these parks 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 the appreciation of future generations of humanity.

There have always been those who claim that the purpose of parks is 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 has spent 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, in their totality and in combination, are the true principles that should guide the management of parks, under whatever designation or jurisdiction:

  1. Parks are for the preservation of land in its natural condition, and for the appreciation and enjoyment of nature by the public.
  2. The goal of preservation is to foster all the holistic values of completely natural areas. These include environmental health, protection for animal and plant life, survival of species, recreation based upon enjoyment of the natural environment, cultural values and scientific knowledge.
  3. Preservation is the highest form of protection. It means no logging, mining, drilling, hydro development, or human settlement. Commercial development should be located outside of protected areas, where it will concentrate tourism expenditures in local communities. The only human modifications allowed should be for the essential needs of nature-based recreation and resource protection.
  4. Preservation is the most important purpose and top management priority over recreation. Preservation should take precedence over recreation, or facilities such as trails and campsites that support recreation, where the activities or developments would adversely impact wildlife or the functioning of the ecosystem.
  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. 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.
  7. Parks should be administered in an unbiased manner, free of conflict of interest. Leases of park land and facilities to private commercial interests have introduced conflicts between private interests and the public interest into our parks. With every new lease, private interest is accumulating, bringing a cumulative alienation of land, facilities and rights from the public, and a cumulative loss of the protection. This trend must be reversed.
  8. The public has a right to know how its parks are being managed, and to participate in open, transparent planning procedures.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  • Crooked Creek Conservation Society of Athabaska (AB)
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • Denman Conservancy Association
  • Federation of Mountain Clubs
  • Fins in the Forest
  • ForestEthics
  • 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
  • Greenpeace
  • Labour Environmental Council
  • Nanaimo Field Naturalists
  • North Okanagan Naturalists Club (Vernon)
  • Northern Ecology Watch
  • Northwest Ecosystem Alliance
  • Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society
  • ProTerra
  • 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
  • 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


  • Caney Fork Headwaters Association
  • Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers
  • Concept Zero
  • Conservation Congress
  • Cumberland Countians for Peace &Justice
  • Environmental Investigation Agency (US/UK)
  • Friends of the Clearwater
  • Friends of the Wild Swan
  • Great Old Broads for Wilderness
  • Hellman Canoes
  • High Sierra Hiker’s Association
  • Idaho Sporting Congress
  • Kettle Range Conservation Group
  • Montana State Parks Foundation
  • Protect Biodiversity in Public Forest
  • Native Forest Council
  • Network for Environmental &Economic Responsibility
  • North Cascades Conservation Council
  • ParkWatch
  • Selkirk Conservation Alliance
  • Superior Wilderness Action Network
  • Thunderbear
  • Utah Environmental Congress
  • Wild Wildernerss