Why do we need to manage vegetation in national parks?
Traditionally, we have viewed national parks as pristine areas that are left alone to let nature take its course. In certain circumstances, however, there is a need to actively manage vegetation in order to preserve the ecological integrity of a park as well as providing for visitor benefit and enjoyment. In 2000 the National Parks Act was changed to make the maintenance of ecological integrity the first priority in all national parks.
What is vegetation management?
When vegetation is actively managed it means that it is manipulated or changed on purpose by humans to produce desired results. As a rule, national parks are managed with minimal interference to natural processes. However, when ecosystem structure and function have been seriously altered, vegetation management activities are undertaken to restore ecological integrity. In some special cases, vegetation management is also permitted when no reasonable alternatives exist and:
- serious negative effects will occur to neighboring lands outside the parks or;
- facilities, public health or safety are threatened, or;
- other park management objectives cannot be achieved.
Examples of vegetation management activities:
- prescribed fires
- controlling non-native weeds
- revegetation of disturbed sites with native plants
Where active management of vegetation is required, techniques are based on the latest scientific research and mimic natural processes as closely as possible. The effects of any action or technique applied to vegetation are carefully monitored over time so that park managers can learn from past experience and continuously improve vegetation management programs.
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