Summary of the Parks and Protected Areas System
Since the establishment of Strathcona, the first provincial park in 1911, the parks and protected areas system has grown to over 1000 protected areas, covering nearly 14 million hectares, 14.4% of the province.
Protected Area Overview - As of March 31, 2013
|Class A Parks
|Class B Parks
|Class C Parks
|Designations under the Environment and Land Use Act
|Ecological Reserves *
*One ecological reserve is also included a Class A park. The area of overlap is approximately 10 hectares. Two ecological reserves are also included in Lac du Bois Grasslands Park established under the Environment and Land Use Act. The area of overlap is 270 hectares. This area of overlap has been subtracted from the total area figure above.
Class A Park
- A Class A park
is Crown land designated under the Park Act or by the Protected Areas
of British Columbia Act whose management and development is constrained
by the Park Act. Sections 8 and 9 of the Park Act are the most pertinent
in this regard, and direct that a park use permit must not be issued
respecting an interest in land or natural resources “unless,
in the opinion of the minister, to do so is necessary to preserve
or maintain the recreational values of the park involved.”
- In 1995, amendments
to the Park Act provided increased flexibility in accommodating uses
in Class A parks by allowing for the continuation of grazing, hay
cutting and other uses (except commercial logging, mining or hydro
electric development) that existed at the time the park was established.
- Class A parks
can be designated by two means. Class A parks can be established
by either order in council under the Park Act or by inclusion in
a schedule to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act.
Class B Park
Class B Park is Crown land designated under the Park Act whose
management and development is constrained by the Act. They differ
from Class A parks only with respect to the “test” that
must be met in order to issue a park use permit. Sections 8 and
9 of the Park Act are the most pertinent in this regard, and direct
that a park use permit must not be issued respecting an interest
in land or natural resources “unless, in the opinion of the
minister, to do so is not detrimental to the recreational values
of the park concerned.” Accordingly, Class B parks may permit
a broader range of activities and uses provided that such uses
are not detrimental to the recreational values of the park.
B parks are established by order in council.
Class C Park
Class C Park is Crown land designated under the Park Act whose
management and development is constrained by the Act. The requirements
for the management of Class C parks with respect to restricting
the alienation of interests and protecting natural resources is
identical to those for Class A parks.
C parks are established by order in council.
Class C park must be managed by a local board appointed by the
A conservancy is Crown land, designated under the Park Act or by the Protected
Areas of British Columbia Act, whose management and development is constrained
by the Park Act.
Highlights of the new designation
- The conservancy designation explicitly recognizes the importance of these areas to First Nations for social, ceremonial and cultural uses;
- Commercial logging, mining and hydroelectric power generation, other than local
run-of-the-river projects, are prohibited in a conservancy; and
- Conservancies provide for a wider range of low impact, compatible economic
opportunities than a Class A park. These economic opportunities must still
not restrict, prevent or hinder the conservancy from meeting its intended
purpose with respect to maintaining biological diversity, natural environments,
First Nations social, ceremonial and cultural uses, and recreational values.
Conservancies can be designated by two means. Conservancies can be established
by either order in council under the Park Act or by inclusion in a schedule
to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act. Presently, all conservancies
are established by inclusion in schedules to the Protected Areas of British
recreation area is defined as Crown land reserved or set aside
for public recreational use.
areas differ from parks in that the minister has greater discretion
in issuing park use permits.
recreation area designation has evolved over time. In the past,
prior to consideration for designation as Class A parks, lands
had to be open for a minimum interim period of ten years to permit
mineral resource evaluation. During this time, primacy was given
to conservation and recreation values as no other industrial activities
were permitted. With the introduction of the Protected Areas Strategy
and strategic land use planning processes, all recreation areas
are being evaluated from both a protected area value and an economic
opportunity perspective to determine whether the area should be “upgraded” to
full protected area status (e.g. Class A park) or returned to integrated
resource management lands.
recreation area established under the Park Act may also be designated
as a recreation area under the Mineral Tenure Act which provides
for the exploration of minerals.
areas are established by order in council.
purpose of the Ecological Reserve Act is to reserve Crown land
for ecological purposes, including the following areas:
- Areas suitable for scientific research and educational purposes
associated with studies in productivity and other aspects of the
- Areas that are representative examples of natural ecosystems
in British Columbia;
- Areas that serve as examples of ecosystems that have been
modified by human beings and offer an opportunity to study
the recovery of the natural ecosystem from modification;
- Areas where rare or endangered native plants and animals
in their natural habitat may be preserved;
- Areas that contain unique and rare examples of botanical,
zoological or geological phenomena.
- The legislation guiding the program is very restrictive and all extractive
activities are prohibited. As such, ecological reserves are considered
to be the areas most highly protected and least subject to human
- Ecological reserves can be established by two means: (i) by order in council
under the Ecological Reserve Act or (ii) by inclusion in schedules
to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act.
Designations under the Environment and Land Use Act
- The Environment and Land Use Act is a broad piece of legislation which
empowers a Land Use Committee of Cabinet to ensure that all aspects
of the preservation and maintenance of the natural environment
are fully considered in the administration of land use and resource
development. Orders can be made respecting the environment or land
- Protected area designations under the Environment and Land Use Act are by
order in council.
- Management direction for protected areas is provided by any special conditions
included in the establishing order in council and specified provisions
of the Park Act and Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation as identified
in the order in council.