Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
CPAWS is Canada's voice for wilderness protection. For more than 50 years it has championed protection of Canada’s forests, waters and parks with a focus on protecting large, connected areas. To date, CPAWS has succeeded in helping to protect over 50 million hectares. CPAWS vision is to keep at least half of Canada’s public land and water wild – forever.
As a national charity with 13 chapters, over 50,000 supporters, and hundreds of volunteers, CPAWS works collaboratively with governments, local communities, industry and indigenous peoples to protect Canada’s public land and water.
From the vast northern Boreal forest to the temperate forests stretching across Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, Canada is home to some of the largest unbroken tracts of forest on the planet. CPAWS’ goal is to conserve at least half of Canada’s Boreal forests, and to create a network of large conservation areas within the temperate eastern woodlands of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario.
- Helping protect Alberta’s Little Smoky Caribou
- Implementing the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
- Keeping the Restigouche Wild
Parks and Protection Areas
Canada has one of the oldest and most extensive parks systems in the world. CPAWS advocates for new parks and acts as a watchdog to ensure that existing ones are well-managed. With pressures on Canada’s wilderness growing, creating more parks and ensuring existing ones are well-funded and protected is more important than ever.
- Stand up for Jasper!
- Join the movement for Canada’s parks!
- Ensure the Rouge is protected forever
- Add your voice for protecting Thaidene Nene – the Land of the Ancestors!
- Keep the Flathead Wild
- Create a National Park in South Okanagan-Similkameen
- Celebrate the expansion of the world-famous Nahanni!
- Sign the Peel statement of support
Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and a marine area that is half the size of our country. But its marine ecosystems tend to be out of sight and out of mind, and they are in serious trouble. CPAWS’ long term goal is for Canada to complete a national network of marine protected areas that protect at least half of Canada's oceans, with an objective to meet the international target of protecting at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.
- Dare to be Deep: Protect Canada’s Oceans
- Southern Strait of Georgia
- Protegeons notre fleuve
Grasslands are some of the most unique ecosystems in the world, but are also considered the most threatened, with the highest concentration of species at risk. CPAWS chapters in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are working to protect these unique landscapes and their rich biodiversity.
Connecting Canadians to Nature
There is more and more evidence emerging that increasingly urban Canadians are less and less likely to be active outdoors, or to have the opportunity to directly experience nature. Connecting Canadians to Nature is about building a culture of wilderness advocates through wilderness experiences. The Get Outside program offered by certain chapters (BC, Wildlands League) is an important component of this program area. CPAWS’ Southern Alberta chapter also offers an extensive nature education program for school-age children and youth.
CPAWS focuses on protecting large tracts of land, oceans and great freshwater lakes so species like grizzlies, woodland caribou and wolverine have room to roam, and whales and fish can thrive.
Examples of species CPAWS is working to protect
- Woodland caribou herds have declined significantly in the last 100 years. Several herds have disappeared completely. Evidence suggests the majority of these herds will go extinct without conservation action.
- Atlantic Salmon - The Restigouche River and its tributaries support one of the most productive wild Atlantic salmon populations, with some of the largest salmon, in eastern Canada. CPAWS is working to protect the Restigouche watershed.
- Grizzly bears need room to roam, and Canada's interconnected mountain parks are ideal habitat. However, development and industrial pressure in the Rocky Mountain region are reducing the bears' numbers.
MEC Big Wild Challenge
The MEC Big Wild Challenge is a partnership between CPAWS and its title sponsor MEC focused on getting people outdoors, connecting to nature, and being active – all in support of wilderness protection. People can participate either as a member of a team or individually. There are two options:
- Design your own challenge – participants dedicate their next outdoor trip to the wilderness
- MEC Trail Run – complete an organized Trail Run on Sept.19th in select cities across Canada
CPAWS was initially known as the National and Provincial Parks Association (NPPAC). The NPPAC formed in 1963 with a focus on revitalizing Canadian’s appreciation of wilderness parks. Since this time CPAWS’ role and national network has expanded.
The organization has been a key citizens’ group in many decisions relating to the establishment of new parks and wilderness areas and in obtaining significant conservation outcomes through land-use planning processes in many parts of Canada. CPAWS’ name through history has been strongly associated with iconic Canadian parks such as Banff, Nahanni, Algonquin, Quetico and Tatshenshini, and with establishing the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. CPAWS’ role has been significant in many other successful conservation efforts as well, ranging from the establishment of the Forest Stewardship Council to designing land-use planning processes that result in nature protection through a variety of mechanisms.
CPAWS has also been at the forefront of the drive to establish marine protected areas in Canada and played a leading role in the passage of the National Marine Conservation Areas Act. It continues to be Canada’s leading voice for parks and protected areas management.
James B Harkin Conservation Award
In 1972, CPAWS established the James B. Harkin Conservation Award, which is awarded to Canadians who promote conservation. Recipients of the Harkin Award include:
- 2013 John Marsh, Ric Careless and Harvey Locke
- 2011 Nikita Lopoukhine
- 2010 The Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada’s National Parks
- 2008 Bob Peart
- 2007 Dr. Jim Thorsell
- 2005 Dr. J. Gordon Nelson
- 2003 Mike Harcourt, Derek Thompson
- 2002 Elizabeth May
- 2001 Monte Hummel
- 2000 Mike and Diane McIvor
- 1999 Dr. Stephen Herrero
- 1998 Dr. John Theberge (with special recognition of Mary Theberge)
- 1997 Cliff Wallis
- 1996 Chief Emeritus Ruby Dunstan
- 1994 Dr. J. Stan Rowe (d. April 6, 2004)
- 1992 Jennifer Shay, Vernon C. Brink
- 1990 Andy Russell, (d. June 1, 2005)
- 1989 Gavin Henderson
- 1987 Alex T. Davidson
- 1985 Michael J. Nolan, George W. Scotter, Charles Sauriol
- 1981 George F. Ledingham
- 1978 William Fergus Lothian
- 1975 Roderick Haig-Brown (author)|Roderick Haig-Brown
- 1972 Hon. Jean Chrétien