Research in protected areas

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry conducts and administers research in provincial parks and conservation reserves. This research relates to geological, biological, cultural and social sciences.

The ministry sets research priorities, policies and procedures, develops funding strategies and works with partners to ensure research projects meet the needs of each protected area and the broader system.

Conduct research

If you wish to conduct research in Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves, you need to receive authorization from the ministry and follow these steps:

  1. Consider the ministry’s research priorities
    • protected area values monitoring: long-term, standardized, multi-disciplinary, multi-species monitoring to serve as a benchmark for the landscape
    • human use impacts: research regarding potential impacts of recreational uses within protected areas (examining how various uses within protected areas may be adversely affecting ecological integrity)
    • invasive species: research that would improve the ability to manage the impacts of invasive species, including improved understanding of their impact on the environment or other species, method of spread, methods of control, and their interactions within ecosystems
    • understanding protected areas in landscape context and impact of adjacent uses: research on the unique roles that protected areas play within landscapes, as well as research on the impact of adjacent land uses on protected areas
    • protected area selection/representative ecosystems: research on representation and alternative approaches in light of new knowledge, new data and climate change
    • fish populations: research on the population dynamics of fish found within protected areas, their vulnerabilities and contribution to fish populations within the landscape as a whole
    • public understanding of protected areas: research on effective communication of Ontario’s mandate for protected areas to the public, as well as research on the public’s current appreciation for Ontario’s protected areas
    • ecological integrity: research on how to determine whether ecosystems within protected areas are being managed, to maintain or enhance their ecological integrity
    • ecosystem restoration: research on effective restoration of degraded ecosystems to a healthy condition, with specific focus on techniques to restore impacts associated with park-related activities
    • deer management: research on effective management of white-tailed deer populations in protected areas to reduce their impact on tree recruitment and native plant species
  1. Understand the approval process

    Research authorization for provincial parks and conservation reserves

  2. Apply to conduct research

    You can apply online to propose a research project.

    Apply to conduct research

    For questions about your research proposal, contact protected areas.

  3. Submit final reports and data

    Once your research project has been approved and is completed, you need to provide the ministry with copies of all final reports, summary abstracts and raw data you’ve compiled.

    The ministry will not publish your data, but reserves the right to use it for internal inventory, monitoring and resource management purposes.

    If re-applying to conduct additional research, you need to ensure this information has been submitted before your application will be considered.

    Submit this information to protected areas.

Protected areas research needs survey

Ministry research projects

These ministry research projects may support your proposed research project.

2011 Park Visitor Survey Reports

Day use survey

Campground survey

Backcountry survey

Research partnerships

The ministry participates in these research partnerships to support its research objectives:

  • Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA): the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is a major contributor to CASIOPA, a partnership between MNRF, Parks Canada and several Ontario universities. CASIOPA encourages research relating to the understanding, planning, management and decision making of parks and protected areas.
    Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas
  • Canadian Council on Ecological Areas: a national non-profit organization that facilitates and assists Canadians with the establishment and management of a comprehensive network of protected ecological areas. Members include the ministry, Natural Resources Canada, Parks Canada, Environment Canada and non-governmental organizations.
    Canadian Council on Ecological Areas