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2001 October Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

October 2001 Report—Chapter 1—Section 5

Case Study 1.5.2—Management of selected national wildlife areas in the basin

In the Ontario region, the total operating budget for all 10 national wildlife areas in 1999-2000 was $83,000, with four full-time-equivalent staff devoted to wildlife and habitat management. With so few people managing 10 areas, management practices have not been consistent. Only the Long Point and St. Clair national wildlife areas have federal staff on site; Environment Canada visits the others about once a month. In contrast, in 1979 the Long Point National Wildlife Area alone employed three full-time wardens, two part-time wardens, one site biologist, one habitat technician, and 12 students.

In the Quebec region, the total operating budget for all eight national wildlife areas in 1999-2000 was $102,000, with five full-time staff devoted to wildlife and habitat management. In Quebec, we also observed that Environment Canada lacks the capacity to manage all its national wildlife areas effectively. For example, the Lac Saint-François National Wildlife Area, a Ramsar site, has a management plan dating back to 1986 and no federal staff on site.

Given that the mandate of national wildlife areas is exclusively for protection of wildlife and not for recreational use, there are not many opportunities to generate revenue. Some—for example, Cap Tourmente in Quebec—have been able to combine wildlife protection with activities such as public education and outreach programs that produce revenue.

National wildlife areas are receiving more visitors as they become better known, placing more pressures on these already sensitive environments. Furthermore, designating them as Ramsar sites and/or important bird areas has increased the demand for more public access and more information (particularly on Canada's fulfilment of international agreements). The federal government has not increased its resources in these areas to meet the demands.