Status of parks and protected areas




Protecting parts of the land base provides a foundation for protecting biodiversity, and ecological and cultural heritage. In 1992, Canada and 167 other countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity. Part of this agreement includes establishing networks of protected areas to conserve biodiversity.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature defines a protected area as “A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values” (Dudley 2008). Canada has indicated its support for this definition.

A protected area is land that has been withdrawn from resource and industrial development—mining, oil and gas, logging, dams and land dispositions—and where conservation is the primary objective within the area.

Many protected areas in Yukon were first recognized as special management areas in First Nation Final Agreements. More recently, protected areas are being identified through the regional land use planning process. Yukon has several types of protected areas: national parks and reserves, national wildlife areas, territorial parks, habitat protection areas and special management areas.




What is happening?

Currently, Yukon has 63,275 km2 of land identified for conservation purposes—just over 13 per cent of Yukon’s total area. Of that, 61,486 km2 are protected lands, which include territorial parks, habitat protection areas, national parks, national wildlife areas, and special management areas.

Territorial parks
  • All parks, with the exception of Agay Mene, have interim or permanent withdrawals from mining, oil and gas and surface dispositions. For Agay Mene, the Carcross/Tagish First Nation Final Agreement indicates that land use decisions will be determined through park management planning.
  • A Kusawa Park management plan was recommended to the parties in 2016.
  • Management planning for Asi Keyi began in summer 2015 and planning for Dàadzàii Vàn (Summit Lake-Bell River) began in early 2016.
Habitat protection areas and special management areas
  • Habitat protection areas and special management areas are created to maintain important features of Yukon's natural or cultural environment for the benefit of residents and visitors, while respecting the rights of First Nations.
  • Habitat protection areas may be established through First Nation final agreements, regional land use planning, or the submission of a proposal to the Minister subject to criteria identified in the Wildlife Act.
  • Yukon has twelve habitat protection areas, identified or established.


    Horseshoe Slough,

    Nordenskiold (Tsâwnjik Chu)

    Devil’s Elbow and Big Island

    Fishing Branch (Ni'iinlii Njik)

    Van Tat K’atr’ananhtii (Old Crow Flats)

    Lhutsaw Wetland

    Ta’tla Mun

    Mandanna Lake


    Pickhandle Lakes

    Tagish River

    Ddhaw Ghro

    Ch’ihilii Chik (Whitefish Wetlands)


    Lewes Marsh

  • Ch’ihilii Chik is the first Habitat Protection Area identified through the regional land use planning process.
National parks and reserves and national wildlife areas
  • There are three national parks and one national wildlife area in Yukon.
  • Ivvavik National Park was established through the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and was the first national park in Canada to be created as a result of an aboriginal land claim agreement. Parks Canada and the Inuvialuit cooperatively manage Ivvavik.
  • Kluane National Park and Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. Together with Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and British Columbia's Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, it forms part of the largest international UNESCO World Heritage Site. Parks Canada, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, and Kluane First Nation manage Kluane National Park and Reserve in partnership.


Canadian heritage rivers
  • Designation as a Canadian heritage river recognizes rivers or river segments for their natural or cultural heritage and recreational values. This does not provide legal protection for the area. Management of Yukon Canadian heritage rivers is described in each respective approved management plan.
  • Yukon has four designated Canadian heritage rivers:
    • Alsek (within Kluane National Park),
    • Bonnet Plume,
    • Thirty Mile Section of the Yukon River, and
    • Tatshenshini.
Peel Watershed

On December 16, 2015, a second two-year withdrawal from resource development was placed across the Peel Watershed regional land use planning region until January 1, 2018; a portion of this area was previously reported as protected in the 2014 State of the Environment Report. Land use planning will continue for the Peel Watershed region once the Supreme Court of Canada decision is known and the parties agree on a path forward.




Data quality

The total area of Yukon is 483,662 km2 including all land and freshwater based on the best available geospatial representation of the Yukon border and off-shore islands. The management plans for each area provide the specific details of land ownership and withdrawal from resource development or equivalent status.

The areas reported as protected are confirmed by the following methods:

  1. If the area is subject to an interim or permanent withdrawal under the Lands Act or a prohibition order under the Quartz Mining Act and Placer Mining Act, or if it is designated as a protected area under the Parks and Land Certainty Act or the Wildlife Act:
    • the area stated as protected in the relevant legislation is reported, or
    • if no area is stated, the area from the administrative plan map referenced by the relevant legislation is repoted as protected.
  2. If there is no area or administrative plan referenced in legislation as protected, or there is no legislation in place, the management plan area or area recorded in a Final Agreement is reported.



Dudley, N. (Editor). 2008. Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories. Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series No. 21, Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. Available from: http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_assignment_1.pdf.