Measuring the Effectiveness of Parks Canada's Environmental Management System: A Case Study of Riding Mountain National Park

By Bronson, Jackie; Noble, Bram | The Canadian Geographer, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Measuring the Effectiveness of Parks Canada's Environmental Management System: A Case Study of Riding Mountain National Park


Bronson, Jackie, Noble, Bram, The Canadian Geographer


In 1996, the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization released its ISO 14001 guidelines for environmental management systems (EMSs). By implementing an EMS, an organization is better situated to manage the environmental effects of its operations which, in turn, should lead to better environmental performance. However, research on EMS performance has only recently begun to emerge, and the relation between EMSs and genuine improvement in environmental performance has not been clearly established, particularly for organizations such as Parks Canada, whose principal mandate is to protect the natural environment. While EMSs are gaining recognition amongst parks as a systematic approach for dealing with the environmental aspects of park operations, there has been very little investigation as to the effectiveness of EMSs in improving the environmental performance of park operations. This paper presents the results of a case study of the effectiveness of Riding Mountain National Park's (RMNP's) EMS and its contribution to environmental improvement. The results confirm EMS experience elsewhere in that RMNP's EMS has been only moderately successful at best and that there exists no clear link between the EMS and the environmental improvement of park operations.

Le mesure de l'efficacite du systeme de gestion de l'environnement de Parcs Canada: Une etude de cas du parc national du Mont-Riding, En 1996, l'Organisation internationale de normalisation, basse ... Geneve, a publie ses principes directeurs ISO 14001 pour les systemes de gestion de l'environnement (SGE). En implantant un SGE, une organisation se retrouve mieux placde pour gerer les effets sur l'environnement resultant de son fonctionnement qui, ... son tour, devrait mener ... une plus grande efficacite ... I'egard de l'environnement. Cependant, la recherche sur l'efficacite des SGE ne fait que voir le jour depuis tout recemment et la relation entre les SGE et une am,lioration veritable dans le rendement environnemental n'a pas encore ete clairement etablie, surtout en ce qui concerne les organisations telles que Parcs Canada, dont le mandat principal est de prot,ger l'environnement naturel. Alors que les SGE deviennent de plus en plus reconnus parmi les parcs comme etant une approche syst,matique pour traiter des aspects environnementaux du fonctionnement des parcs, il y a eu trSs peu d'enqu^tes . I'egard de l'efficacite des SGE dans l'am,lioration du fonctionnement des parcs. Ce travail presente les resultats d'une etude de cas sur l'efficacite du SGE du parc national du Mont-Riding et sa contribution envers l'amelioration de l'environnment. Les resultants conferment l'experience SGE ailleurs car le SGE du parc national n'a connu au plus qu'un success moyem, et qu'il n'existe aucun lien clair entre les sge et l'amelioration environnementale du fonctionnement du parc.

Introduction

In 1996, the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released its ISO 14001 series for environmental management systems (EMSs), outlining the necessary standards for effective EMS design and implementation. An EMS is an industry-based management system, by which an organization controls the activities, products and processes that cause, or could cause, environmental impacts, and in doing so, minimizes the environmental impacts of its operations. By implementing an EMS, an organization is better situated to manage the environmental effects of its operations which, in turn, should lead to better environmental performance. However, research on EMS performance has only recently begun to emerge, and the relation between EMSs and environmental improvement remains unclear (e.g., Coglianese and Nash 2002; McDonach and Yaneske 2002; Matthews et al. 2004). This is particularly the case within the context of non-industry organizations such as Parks Canada, which have an explicit mandate to protect the natural environment.

Protecting the natural environment has long been part of Parks Canada's mandate. …

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