Media releases

  • Visit Canada’s parks responsibly says Brock professor

    MEDIA RELEASE: 17 July 2019 – R00114

    Saturday, July 20 is Parks Day in Canada, an annual event marked by fun and activities at many of the country’s parks and historical sites.

    But before heading out for a picnic or camping adventure, Brock University Geography and Tourism Studies Professor Dave Fennell is urging visitors to do a bit of homework and become familiar with the places they’re headed.

    He points out that most parks and historical sites post plenty of information online, including codes of ethics and regulations visitors are expected to respect.

    “It’s incumbent upon us as individuals to fill in that gap of knowledge before we get to these places,” says Fennell.

    Unfortunately, he says, not everyone obeys the rules. He has seen some parks where trees have no lower branches because people have ripped them off to make a campfire. Exposed tree roots, hardened campsites and water quality issues are further indicators of overuse.

    “There just doesn’t seem to be the respect and responsibility there ought to be,” he says. “Don’t be an ugly tourist. Be a responsible tourist.”

    Fennell’s message isn’t just for the adults.

    “This respect for nature is something you can pass on to your children,” he says.

    The problem with tourism is what he calls the “all about me” attitude. People who spend lots of time and money travelling to a destination can get annoyed when park regulations seem to get in the way of their fun. But, he says, “it’s not really about them, it’s about the natural world.”

    According to Fennell, a combination of active and passive management strategies is often necessary for people to get the message. That means education as well as enforced regulations.

    Algonquin Provincial Park, for example, uses a permit system.

    “You have to register to use one of the campsites on the lakes because there are just too many people wanting to use these places,” he says.

    Fennell, one of the first people in the world to study ecotourism at the graduate level, describes ecotourism as an attitude and an ethic about how to approach the natural world.

    In 1988, amendments were made to Canada’s Natural Parks Act that prioritized ecological integrity above use.

    Now, unlike the square parks of the past, new national parks are built on the basis of ecosystem management and according to the integrity of the natural world.

    Canada is trying to establish at least one park in each of its 39 unique physiographic regions and 29 marine regions.

    “We’re doing a much better job with the terrestrial system than we are with the marine system,” Fennell says.

    By visiting these protected areas, are tourists making things worse? Fennell says not necessarily.

    “With parks and protected areas, you always have to balance use with preservation,” he says. “That’s why the way we plan, develop and manage these places becomes really important. The management has to be innovative and very site-specific.”

    Canada has always been a model of park management for the rest of the world, says Fennell, but it still faces challenges.

    “Our parks are in a difficult state right now,” he says. “It costs a lot of money to make sure our parks and historical monuments are in good shape from an infrastructure standpoint.”

    Managed properly, ecotourism can attract visitors and generate revenue, not only for the ecotour operators and local businesses, but also for conservation and the upkeep of places.

    Fennell’s biggest piece of advice is to get out and enjoy what Ontario and Canada have to offer.

    “There’s so much here we should be proud of and that we need to take care of for the future,” he says. “These are really special places. They’re the crown jewels in Canada.”

    Visit the Parks Canada website for more information on Parks Day activities and places to visit in Ontario or across the country.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Schmon Tower to be illuminated in honour of Mandela Day

    MEDIA RELEASE: 17 July 2019 – R00113

    Brock University will mark Nelson Mandela International Day on Thursday, July 18 by raising the South African flag and illuminating Schmon Tower in yellow, green, red and blue.

    Thursday marks the 101st anniversary of the birth of Mandela, who was an anti-apartheid activist and global leader. Mandela was involved in protests and politics most of his life, most famously opposing the racial discrimination of the apartheid policy. Imprisoned for more than 27 years, he became one of the most recognized political prisoners in the world.

    After his release from prison, Mandela became the first black president to be democratically elected in South Africa. In 2009, the United Nations declared July 18 Nelson Mandela International Day, or Mandela Day. This year also marks the beginning of the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace, as declared by the United Nations.

    Dolana Mogadime, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, has advocated for the flag raising and tower illumination to become an annual event at Brock and has been collaborating with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on the Nelson Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibit.

    The flag of South Africa will be raised Thursday morning and Schmon Tower will be illuminated in the flag’s colours at dusk and through the evening hours.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases