national parks. With increasing
stresses threatening the health of the nation’s
parks — climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation,
and pollution just to name a few — understanding
the natural balance and how it is changing over time
has become increasingly important. Doing this involves
long-term monitoring and research projects that require
not only the know-how and experience of park wardens,
but also the expertise of biologists and environmentalists,
as well as the support of other Parks Canada staff and
members of the wider community.
A number of these projects draw on the traditional
ecological knowledge and experiences of First Nations
people. The wardens in Wapusk National Park on Hudson
Bay, for example, now listen carefully to accounts from
local elders about changes to wildlife, plant species,
and weather patterns brought about by climate change.
(Such accounts have revealed that lightning and thunderstorms
are a very recent phenomenon,
likely resulting from climatic warming; older residents
in the Wapusk area had never seen lightning until recently).
Some monitoring projects transpire quietly and entail
solitary tasks in remote areas for weeks at a stretch.
Others provide moments of nail-biting, gripping drama.
Monitoring Trees in the Wilderness
Located in the southwestern part of the Northwest Territories,
Nahanni National Park is an internationally acclaimed
example of Canada’s magnificent northern wilderness.
So wild is this area that the staff, which includes
five wardens, are not stationed on site but at Fort
Simpson, on the Mackenzie River, a two-hour helicopter
ride away. There is no road access to the park; it can
be reached only by air or by water, through the deeply
incised valleys of the South Nahanni and Flat Rivers.
The untamed remoteness of the park means that it attracts
few visitors: only about 800 come annually, about half
flying in for just a few hours
||Warden Barry Troke checks
a weather monitoring station at Quttiniripaaq National
|Image © Parks
Photograph by W. Lynch