Calgary has one of the highest allocations of greenspace of any city in North America. There are more than 693 natural areas which make up over 50.6% of the park space in Calgary.
What is a natural area?
Natural parks are mainly comprised of native animal (fauna) and plant (flora) life, or are in the process of naturalization. These parks play an important role in protecting Calgary's wildlife by providing habitat for resident and migratory animals. Compared to manicured parks, natural areas give priority to the protection of vegetation and wildlife over human use when the two come into conflict.
The Natural Area Management Plan, one of the first of its kind in Canada, provides guidelines under which natural parks in Calgary are managed. Some specialized techniques for improving natural parks include erosion control, weed control, and planting native vegetation. Other park management issues include animal control, wildlife encounters, encroachments and vandalism.
Help us protect our natural areas
Because of our close proximity to many different natural areas and environments, Calgarians sometimes disrupt the delicate environmental balance in our natural areas. Common encroachments and violations include fire pits, mowed strips, unapproved plantings, compost bins, parked vehicles, bike park construction, and forts.
Classifying our natural parks
Classifying a parks as "natural" designates the type and amount of maintenance used on each park. There are four classifications:
Special Protection: These areas are of the highest significance in terms of biodiversity and wildlife, and are given the highest level of protection and management. This includes Weaselhead Flats, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Griffith Woods.
Major: These are large, well-established parks that may not have the habitat quality or diversity of special protection parks. These include Nose Hill and Edworthy parks.
Supporting: These play a role as buffers and corridors, or are an extension of other parks, like the Edgemont Ravines.
Parks with Natural Area Zones: A large regional park that has natural aspects associated with it like Prince's Island Park fit this classification.