Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


As a term, sustainability has often come to be adopted as the 'panacea' for many problems without any clear understanding that the solutions will vary given the nature of the problem, the scale involved and the goals and objectives set out. As a result, what has emerged in the literature has been many different 'pictures' of sustainability, all of which may be relevant in certain contexts. This research examined the potential of the concept within the context of Canadian national parks. Emphasis was directed toward understanding, through the perceptions of 'expert' groups knowledgeable about parks, the key elements needed to promote parks as sustainable landscapes.;The methodology used consisted of the implementation of self-administered questionnaires to policy makers and park superintendents, the development and testing of a model of sustainability applicable to parks, and the use of a modified-delphi process to establish areas of consensus between the responses of park superintendents and academics. Key aspects of sustainability for policy makers and superintendents included a suitable definition with goals that emphasized ecological aspects, landscape/resource characteristics which stressed resilience, stability and sensitivity in parks, a management focus on protection and preservation, and an involvement process including managers who were accountable and the general public. Perceptions on a myriad of themes, ranging from nature preservation to development issues showed there was much consensus between policy makers and superintendents. The results of the model suggested that the majority of themes examined fell within the same approximate level of sustainability. As a result, considerable variation was found to exist between the model in theory as compared to its form after testing. A sustainability framework was produced from consensus statements between 'expert' groups, and included attributes of sustainability identified for the national park system as a whole, against which individual park superintendents could make comparisons with the specific nature of characteristics in each park.;Overall, the results of the thesis represent a starting point to address sustainability within the context of parks, and offer some understanding of what sustainability in national parks involves, which is a modified version of ecological sustainability accepting a certain amount of use in the form of recreation and tourism.



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