Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS National)


Mission Statement

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), established in 1963, has played a leadership role in creating over two-thirds of Canada’s protected areas. CPAWS’ long-term vision is that at least one-half of Canada’s public lands, freshwater and ocean environments will remain permanently wild for the public trust. As a national charity with 13 chapters, 200,000 supporters and hundreds of volunteers, CPAWS works collaboratively with Indigenous, federal, provincial, and territorial governments, local communities, industry and Indigenous peoples to protect our country’s amazing natural places. We also work to ensure that our national and provincial wilderness parks are managed to protect the nature within them.


The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is Canada's grassroots voice for wilderness. Since 1963, we have been instrumental in the creation of over two-thirds of Canada's protected areas. That amounts to over half a million square kilometres. Our vision is to keep at least half of Canada's public land, ocean and fresh water wild.
Protecting Public Land, Oceans and Freshwater
All of Canada’s ocean estate and freshwater together with ninety percent of Canada's lands are public -- stewarded by governments on behalf of Canadians. At CPAWS, we share science-based information with decision-makers and the public, and encourage supporters to speak up for nature conservation when decisions are being made about the future of our wilderness.
Guarding the integrity of our parks
Canada's wilderness parks are a key part of our national identity, and CPAWS is the only non-profit organization advocating for them from coast to coast to coast. We help in establishing new parks, and act as a watchdog to ensure that existing ones are well-managed so that nature conservation is the top priority. With increasing pressure on our wilderness, creating more parks and ensuring existing ones are protected is vital, so that future generations will be able to experience nature as we can today.
Working together for a healthier tomorrow
CPAWS works collaboratively with all levels of governments, indigenous communities, industry and other environmental groups to develop innovative conservation solutions. CPAWS' staff members work alongside dedicated volunteers to engage campaign supporters in speaking up for nature conservation through community outreach, advocacy and education.

Program Details

Parks and Protected Areas
Our long -term goal is the protection of at least half of Canada’s public land, freshwater and ocean. This ambitious goal is grounded in evidence that this scale of protection is needed to effectively conserve nature, particularly in the face of climate change. Our vision has recently been affirmed by one of the world’s most prestigious biologists, E.O. Wilson, who coined the term “biodiversity” and has recently published a book called “Half Earth” in which he makes the case for protecting at least half the earth to sustain nature and people.
Since 1963, we have played a key role in creating over two thirds of Canada’s protected areas, and in creating a strong legal and management framework for park management. CPAWS has been the 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 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.
We are one of the world’s most accomplished non-government organizations working on protected-areas management.
Since 2017, CPAWS and our chapters across the counry ave been working with Indigenous, provincial, territorial and federal governments to reach the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to protect 17% of Canada`s wild lands and ocean by 2020.
CPAWS has 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. For over 20 years, CPAWS has played a leading role in the protection and better management of Canada’s marine environment. We have been active on a number of fronts, including the development of policy and legislation for ocean management and marine protected areas (MPAs), the identification and protection of ecologically significant areas, building political and bureaucratic support for ocean conservation and management, as well as engaging citizens and community groups in conservation initiatives. We aim to achieve lasting conservation outcomes that have broad stakeholder and public support.
Caribou, Canada's iconic species that you can find on our quarter, are at risk of disappearing from our landscape. Woodland caribou rely on intact old growth forests to survive - habitat that is increasingly fragmented and damaged by industrial human activity such as logging, oil and gas exploration and extraction, and by climate change. As the climate changes, increased wildfires, invasive species and pests further impacts caribou habitat and life cycles, further amplifyirng the direct human impacts on the landscape.
Across Canada, CPAWS is working with Indigenous governments, provinces, territories and the federal government, progressive companies, and local communities to develop conservation measures for boreal woodland caribou on Canada`s public lands, including those leased to resource companies.
  • Encouraging provinces and territories to implement the legal tools needed to protect at-risk caribou herds across Canada, focused on woodland caribou;
  • Designing and implementing range plans for all boreal woodland caribou herds that include effective protection for core caribou habitat;
  • Working with forestry companies and indigenous governments to develop caribou habitat conservation proposals on lands leased to forest companies, to help provincial governments find sustainable solutions;
  • Integration of robust caribou conservation considerations in land use management and other tools that could reduce or halt the threats to critical habitat, such as forest management laws, permitting regulations, and environmental impact assessments practices.
Climate Change
By protecting our ecosystems, we protect the carbon they store from being emitted by industrial exploitation.  Globally, our oceans and lands absorb almost half of our GHG emissions each year. Across Canada, billions of tonnes of carbon are stored within our lands and oceans.
However, when our ecosystems are degraded by industrial activities, the carbon stored within the ecosystem is released and the ecosystem’s ability to absorb carbon afterwards is often diminished.
Biodiversity is both vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the mechanism for being able to adapt to it. After habitat loss, climate change is the biggest threat to biodiversity. Scientists estimate 20-30% of species will be at risk of extinction as the result of climate change. By reducing existing threats to their health, we are also giving those ecosystems, and all species that depend on them, a better chance of being resilient to climate change impacts, which should help them adapt to climate change over time. Healthy ecosystems provide the essential ecosystem services that all species, including humans, need to survive. By protecting and restoring damaged ecosystems, we can strengthen our resilience to climate change.
CPAWS is working to find and promote nature-based solutions across Canada, including:
  • working with all governments to create new terrestrial and marine protected areas that are large enough to be resilient to climate change impacts;
  • working with forest managers to identify adaptation practices that will benefit forests, communities, and their businesses;
  • working with governments, local communities and others to find solutions that both protect our stored carbon and habitat for wildlife;
  • advocating that Canada develop and implement greenhouse gas accounting rules that capture the GHG emissions caused by industrial activities that impact our ecosystems;
  • providing nature-focused recommendations for adaptation and mitigation of climate change to decision-makers.
Environmental Outreach and Education
The best way to engage Canadians in protecting our nation’s natural wonders is to connect them to nature through outdoor experiences and educate them about the importance of environmental protection and stewardship.
Across the country, CPAWS’ regional chapters organize public outreach in their communities and provide cutting-edge education and experiential programs for children and adults. From classroom lectures to guided interpretive hikes, CPAWS uses outreach and education to increase public awareness and knowledge of conservation and biodiversity issues.
Programs vary by region. Visit your local chapter site to learn more about what CPAWS is doing near you!
Primary Issue
Secondary Issue
506-250 City Centre Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1R6K7
Social Media Links


Supporting Members