A report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) found provincial and federal governments should invest in provincial parks and locally led Indigenous conservation initiatives to best aid the restart of the economy post pandemic.
The provincial and federal governments are deciding where monetary aid to restart the economy should go after the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected many industries.
Tori Ball, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society British Columbia Chapter (CPAWS-BC) terrestrial campaigner, strongly advocated that governments should spend their money on supporting the long term needs of communities across the province by investing in the BC Parks budget as well as local Indigenous conservation initiatives.
Ball noted decades of underfunding, including this year’s budget cut of four per cent, to BC Parks has led to understaffing and limited core functions of parks, making it difficult for residents to enjoy affordable outdoor activities.
“The longstanding underfunding crisis has led to understaffing making (BC Parks) unable to manage visitors and protect wildlife which puts both the visitors and wildlife at risk,” said Ball. “It’s become very clear that BC Parks are essential to our health and well-being. Being in a green space can significantly reduce cortisol levels and boost endorphins and dopamine which can make people less stressed and more happy simply by getting outside.”
According to a report that was released this spring by CPAWS, it was found that immediate investment in provincial parks would increase staff capacity and result in better management of visitors, ecological site monitoring and management planning. This would ultimately help recognize BC Parks’ role in supporting communities, their health, economy and the environment.
“We know that nature conservation is a driver of economic growth and provides essential community benefits that help build a resilient global economy,” Ball added in a press release.
Furthermore, government support of Indigenous-led conservation initiatives will help protect and recover at-risk species, build long term sustainable jobs in rural and remote communities, as well as enable reconciliation with indigenous nations, Ball explained.