The case of Algonquin Park: Understanding the challenges of environmental impact assessment policy implementation in multi-use parks

Luis, Meaghan
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University of Guelph

Algonquin Park hosts various, and often conflicting uses. It is both a popular tourist destination and specific areas of forest are designated for commercial logging. Many of the lakes and rivers are popular canoe routes and areas of the park are reserves for endangered species. The park attempts to manage these many uses through an integrated system of policy and strategic planning. The purpose of this study is to understand Algonquin Park's management of its various uses through the implementation of environmental assessment policy and other park policy. This research will critically analyze both the strategic policy framework and specific policy implementation focusing on the ability of the environmental assessment policies to minimize negative environmental impacts and facilitate the uses of the park. The study is a qualitative case study. The methodology consisted of key informant interviews representing the various managers and uses of the park with policy analysis and policy scenario exercises. The results of the study uncover that the EA policies operate through very different models and forms of implementation. Through these problems in implementation the different park uses operate largely independent of one another. This creates a lack of integration and prevents effective environmental protection. This study offers recommendations to improve EA policy implementation based upon the issues identified by informants. These recommendations will provide direction towards a park management system that balances environmental protection with all park uses and strengthens responses to the challenges of managing the additional impacts of invasive species and a changing climate.

Algonquin Park, management, environmental assessment policy, strategic policy framework, park management system, environmental protection