By the late 1950's, dramatic increases in attendance at the Canadian national parks threatened the preservation mandate of the National Parks Act, 1930, which decreed that the parks were to remain in unimpaired condition. To restore the balance between recreational use and preservation, the National Parks Branch adopted land zoning and comprehensive planning to provide administrative and development control.
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the potential effectiveness of the National Parks Zoning System in ensuring the continued preservation of the environmental quality within the national parks. Examined within this paper are the procedures and methodology applied in the planning process to identify the natural resources within a park. Of critical concern was the need to evaluate the adequacy of the methodology applied to interpret the ecological inter-relationships of the various resource elements identified. Through this interpretation, the park planning process seeks to reveal the potential environmental constraints which influence the decision to apply a particular zoning classification. In turn, zoning determines the level of visitor and/or administrative facilities development permitted. Failure to identify the environmental constraints will result in an improper application
of zoning to the long-term detriment of the preservation objectives.