THE NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE OF WATERTON LAKES NP
Waterton Lakes National Park represents the southern Rocky Mountains Natural Region - where some of the most ancient mountains in the Rockies abruptly meet the prairie. It helps protect the unique and unusually diverse physical, biological and cultural resources found in the Crown of the Continent: one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountain chain. Several different ecological regions meet and interact in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants and wildlife. It is part of a system of National Parks representing the natural landscapes of Canada.
MAIN PARK THEME -
“Where the Mountains Meet the Prairie”
Waterton Lakes National Park also has global significance because of several key international designations.
- Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (WGWGIPP) (1932) - The WGWGIPP was originally created as a symbol of peace and goodwill between the United States and Canada but has now evolved to also represent the need for cooperation and stewardship in a world of shared resources. Both parks strive to protect the ecosystem through shared management, not only between themselves, but also with their other neighbours.
- The WGWGIPP was designated a World Heritage Site (1995) because: -
- it is an “outstanding example representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes” - specifically because of its distinctive climate and landforms, the abrupt meeting of mountain and prairie, and its tri-oceanic divide (waters flowing toward three oceans);
- it is an area of exceptional natural beauty and scenic values; and
- of the cultural importance of its designation as an International Peace Park.
- Waterton Biosphere Reserve (1979) - As Canada’s second Biosphere Reserve, Waterton was the first Canadian national park to take part in this UNESCO program. Biosphere Reserves are created to achieve a better understanding of the relationship between humans and the natural environment by integrating knowledge and experience from both natural and social sciences. Major goals are to support information exchange, research, education, training and improved land management, largely through cooperation and shared projects with local private landowners and government agencies.
WORKING WITH NEIGHBOURS
There is a need for a broader perspective to effectively protect ecosystem integrity, one requiring management across boundaries. The Crown of the Continent Ecosystem includes land located in two countries, two provinces and one state which are controlled by both public and private agencies and landowners. The challenge is to positively involve all interests in cooperating to achieve a viable, healthy ecosystem.