Parks & Natural Areas Division


The Division has two primary responsibilities; the conservation of biological diversity through the establishment of a system of parks and protected areas, and the provision of a diverse range of outdoor recreational opportunities that encourage residents and visitors to explore and appreciate the province's natural heritage. The Division also supports scientific research and monitoring, education and sustainable tourism activities in the province's parks and reserves.

The Division is responsible for planning, establishing, developing and managing provincial parks, wilderness and ecological reserves, and Canadian heritage rivers. The Division works with Parks Canada in planning new national parks and national marine conservation areas in the province. The Division is responsible for the administration of the Provincial Parks Act opens new window, the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act opens new window, the National Park Lands Act opens new window, and associated regulations, including select regulations under the Lands Act.

The Division is a member of the Canadian Parks Council and the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board, and works with Parks Canada in planning new National Parks and National Marine Conservation Areas in the province.

Newfoundland and Labrador's parks and reserves are created and maintained for five key reasons:

  • biodiversity conservation
  • scientific research
  • recreation
  • education
  • ecotourism

The Parks and Natural Areas Division's goals are summed up in our Mission Statement. Further guidance is provided by the Vision Statement of each of the Division's three program areas.

Mission Statement:

To protect and preserve in an unimpaired condition representative and rare examples of the Province's natural heritage as Provincial Parks and Wilderness and Ecological Reserves, and to provide a diverse range of outdoor recreational opportunities, province-wide, which will encourage visitors to celebrate, discover, explore, understand and appreciate our natural heritage.
  • Park Operations and Administration Program
    • To operate and manage a system of Provincial Parks to protect examples of our natural heritage and to provide a diverse range of outdoor recreational opportunities province-wide, which will encourage visitors to discover, explore, understand and celebrate our natural heritage. To establish policy, planning and operational standards for the establishment and management of Provincial Parks including the T'Railway.
  • Natural Areas Program
    • To protect, in an unimpaired condition, large wilderness areas, representative examples of all of the province's ecoregions including their natural processes and features, and rare natural phenomena, so as to preserve the diversity and distinctiveness of the province's rich natural heritage and to support an ecologically sustainable future for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • Environmental Education and Promotion Program
    • To become a provincial leader in outdoor environmental natural history interpretation, education and awareness, through delivery of high quality natural history interpretation programs. To provide a destination for resident and non-resident visitors with various levels of interest in natural history. To promote environmental stewardship, and to foster awareness of the need for protected areas.


The Parks and Natural Areas Division provide the following services:

  • Delivers campground services, outdoor recreational opportunities and day use recreation services in provincial parks and reserves.
  • Provides interpretive programs and services in select provincial parks and ecological reserves.
  • Delivers the fall Parks as Nature's Classroom programs in select provincial parks and reserves around the province in partnership with schools.
  • Establishes new protected areas and manages existing protected areas to conserve biological diversity, mitigate climate change, provide ecological goods and services (such as flood control, carbon storage) and provide a foundation for sustainable development.
  • Prepares management plans for wilderness and ecological reserves and Canadian heritage rivers.
  • Conducts scientific research and monitoring in provincial parks and reserves.
  • Partners with community and industry stakeholders to support management and development of parks and reserves.
  • Maintains a database on provincial protected areas and disseminates data for national and international reporting.
  • Works with other government departments and agencies on plans and policies relating to protected areas.
  • Responds to internal and external requests for information related to parks and protected areas.


Client groups include campers, outdoor enthusiasts, tourism operators and associations, economic development and community-based organizations, conservation organizations, industry organizations, schools, students, researchers, photographers, educational groups, conference organizers, federal, provincial, and municipal governments, departments, and agencies, and the general public.


Parks and Natural Areas Division encourages and is thankful for the collaboration of several groups who take a special interest and role in caring for individual parks and reserves. These partners include:

Cape Race-Portugal Cove South Heritage Inc.

Cape Race-Portugal Cove South Heritage Inc. was formed in July, 1998. It was part of an effort by area residents and supporters to improve the economy of this area of the Avalon Peninsula's Southern Shore by capitalizing on the tourism potential of two internationally significant sites—the Cape Race Light Station, and Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve.

Following the collapse of the northern cod fishery and the closure of the Trepassey fish plant in 1991—which had been the southern Avalon's largest employer-the community of Portugal Cove South was forced to look more closely at the tourism sector for economic development opportunities. The Heritage corporation was one of their solutions, and since its formation the organization has successfully completed a number of initiatives. Many are related to the promotion and protection of Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, to the east of Portugal Cove South, including the development and staffing of a visitor information centre in the community and the creation of a natural heritage interpretation program for the reserve.

The Heritage Corporation is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Its mandate is to preserve, develop and promote the natural and cultural resources of the Portugal Cove South area. During the summer, it provides guided tours of the Cape Race Lighthouse, and the Myrick Wireless Interpretation Centre (a reconstructed Marconi station). Parks and Natural Areas Division Interpreters for Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve are also housed in the Interpretation Centre. To book a tour, contact the visitor centre, (709) 438-1100.

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Friends of Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve Inc.

Burnt Cape, on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, was first recognized as a special place when Harvard botanist M.L. Fernald travelled there in the 1920s. Fernald and his team did much to raise awareness of the region's rare and distinctive plant life—at least among scientists and botanists in the early half of the century.

Interest waned after the first excitement, and it was not until the 1970s that the rare species and plant diversity found on Burnt Cape were "rediscovered." Yet by the 1980s, commercial and domestic limestone gravel quarrying seriously threatened the survival of the Cape's rarest plants.

The possibility of species extinction led botanist Susan Meades, citizens of the community of Raleigh, and other concerned people to attempt to find a way to protect the Cape's botanical environment. And from this "movement" of concerned people the Friends of Burnt Cape was formed.

Burnt Cape was given full ecological reserve designation in March, 2000. The same year, the community of Raleigh also won a Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Award for its efforts "to preserve and protect the natural features of Burnt Cape." Several residents of Raleigh are members of the Friends.

The Friends played an important role in the reserve establishment program, and they continue to support the reserve and interpretive, promotional, and public awareness programs today.

More information about the Friends of Burnt Cape is available by contacting:

Friends of Burnt Cape
P.O. Box 102
Raleigh, NL
A0K 4J0

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Friends of Cape St. Mary's Inc.

The Friends of Cape St. Mary's Inc. is a voluntary, non-profit organization to help promote Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve.

They are the first of its kind in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador formed to assist Cape St. Mary's through various special events, i.e., educational activities, the performing arts, exhibits, community outreach and the sale of nature related items through its own store The Rockery -the shop in the Cape St. Mary's Interpretive Centre.

Friends of Cape St. Mary's hold a formal partnership with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

For more information about the group and its activities, contact:

The Friends of Cape St. Mary's
General Delivery
St. Bride's, NL
A1B 2Z0
Tel: (709) 337-2400

The Cape St. Mary's Performance Series, a series of storytelling, readings, sounds and visual arts, takes place at the Interpretation Centre with the support of such groups as the Friends of Cape St. Mary's. Additional information about the series is available online at opens new window

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Newfoundland T'Railway Council

The T'Railway Provincial Park traverses Newfoundland on the former Canadian National Railway (CNR) right of way—stretching 883 kilometres from Port aux Basque to St. John's. An all-season, multi-use recreation corridor, it was designated as a provincial park in 1997.

In July of 2003, the Department of Environment and Climate Change signed a memorandum of understanding with the Newfoundland T'Railway Council that designated the Council as a partner in the management and development of the T'Railway.

A non-profit organization, the Newfoundland T'Railway Council had formed in 1993, several years before the old railbed became a provincial park. It represents the six core user groups of the Newfoundland T'Railway Provincial Park: hikers, bikers, horse-back riders, cross-country skiers, ATV users, and snowmobilers.

Today, the Council's goal continues to be supporting and promoting the multi-use corridor's development right across the Island. It conducts upgrade work on the T'Railway and is responsible for resurfacing major portions of the former rail bed and the re-decking of many trestles—work will continue until the entire T'Railway is completed.

As a linear Provincial Park, the T'Railway's operations and management are the responsibility of the Parks and Natural Areas Division. The Council works closely with the Division on promotion and education initiatives.

More information about the Newfoundland T'Railway Council is available at:

T'Railway Council
P.O. Box 306
Gander, NL
A1V 1W7
Tel: (709) 256-8833
Fax: (709) 651-3849

Find out more about the T'Railway Council opens new window.

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Seabird Ecological Reserves Advisory Committee (SERAC)

Established to advise Parks and Natural Areas on all issues concerning seabird ecological reserves, SERAC assists the Division in the following ways: evaluating scientific research applications, advising on granting of access requests, and implementing seabird ecological reserve management plans.

The committee also helps with additional management issues, as they arise, including ongoing discussions about oil pollution, tourism operations, visitation levels, education, enforcement, and the protection of additional seabird colonies within the province.

SERAC is chaired by the Manager of the Natural Areas Program, Parks and Natural Areas Division and the Natural Areas Biologist serves as Secretary. Standing members of the committee include representatives from the Canadian Wildlife Service, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the Inland Fish and Wildlife Division (Department of Environment and Climate Change).

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Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council (WERAC)

More information on (WERAC) is available through their page under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves sections of this website

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Sian French

Parks & Natural Areas Division
Department of Environment and Climate Change
Tel: (709) 637-2275
Fax: (709) 637-8060
Last Updated:
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