(13-1) We recommend that Parks Canada take the following first steps to implement improved management and accountability for ecological integrity in national parks before the allocation of additional resources to maintain and restore ecological integrity.
The first steps proposed by the Panel have been chosen to be seminal in setting a new direction for Parks Canada at both symbolic and operational levels. These first steps are measures that have been recommended previously in this report:
- reforms to bring science advice and information to the Chief Executive Officer and into the Executive Board through the appointment of a national Director General of Ecological Integrity (Chapters 2 and 4);
- initiation of a participatory process to develop an Agency Charter, which would lay out the core values of the organization as they relate to its primary objective of ecological integrity (Chapter 2);
- development and early implementation of a detailed and ongoing training and orientation program focused on ecological integrity (Chapter 2);
- revisions to planning guidelines to make ecological integrity the core and overarching theme of future Park Management Plans (Chapter 3);
- gazetting the wilderness zones in at least two national parks in order to give them legal designation, and announcing the intention to gazette wilderness zones in all parks within five years (Chapter 3);
- establishing written guidelines for the re-orientation of the external relations (marketing) department from a focus on mass tourism product marketing to a focus on social marketing, policy marketing, and de-marketing with messages focusing on ecological integrity (Chapter 10);
- strengthening systems to enable public transparency on spending of all additional resources in business plans and public estimates, to make readily identifiable the budgets for: ecosystem research, monitoring and management; the Partnerships Fund and expanded partnerships with Aboriginal peoples; and national parks interpretation;
- development of a strategic plan for moving beyond these first steps to address the longer-term issues essential for the re-orientation of the Parks Canada Agency's national parks components toward the ecological integrity objective, including:
- a detailed budget plan for expenditure of all additional resources given for ecological integrity purposes;
- specific accountability goals for the ecological integrity mandate, including regional integration at national, Field Unit and individual park levels;
- initiation of communications with Aboriginal peoples on how to undertake a healing process;
- a plan to refocus the interpretation and outreach programs on ecological integrity as the primary message, and to widen the audiences for these programs.