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Canada's Forest

Capturing the Beauty of the Canadian Outdoors with Paul Zizka

Paul Zizka
Paul Zizka

Canadian photographer Paul Zizka goes beyond the camera lens in an interview with Mediaplanet on his love for the outdoors and the importance of leaving nature how it was found.


What makes Canada’s National Parks special to you?

First and foremost, I think that in a country that is so rich in natural heritage, it is crucial for us Canadians to have an agency like Parks Canada that aims to protect and conserve those special places and ecosystems. I feel extremely privileged to be able to live in the heart of the national park system here in Banff and to lean on my connection with nature so heavily, on a daily basis. So does my family.

Nature has added so much value to our lives. I also see millions of visitors coming to experience that special connection with the land, the scenery, the fauna and so I’ve come to realize how important the wilderness is not just on its own, but as a place of significance to the human race. Retaining, preserving the ecological integrity of our national parks is absolutely crucial to the health of countless species including our own. 


What do you enjoy the most about being outdoors and exploring nature?

There is so much I treasure about being outside and exploring the mountain parks, but perhaps of greatest value to me is the joy that comes with allowing oneself to be curious as well as the realization that we are connected to all of the other inhabitants of the parks. The perspective gained from time spent in the wilderness, the memories made in all those special places, and the health benefits are also very important to me.


What do you find to be most inspirational when you’re photographing?

The beauty of the parks alone is enough to get me to pull out the camera and create, both for myself and also to share my experience with the world. I also never cease to marvel at how dynamic those places are. As an artist, the local mountains, lakes, and forests constantly provide a fresh canvas as those locations keep renewing themselves through the ever-changing weather and light. I also find tremendous inspiration in thinking about all those who have come before me and have seen their lives bettered by a place.


What are some of the issues Canada’s National Parks are facing today? And how can we work to mitigate them?

Living in Banff, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, the issue that is always most front of mind for me is the sheer number of visitors. These are special places where lasting memories are made, where we feel alive and at our best, and so it’s no surprise that they attract people from all over the globe. Unfortunately, heavy visitation has a negative impact on local wildlife, fragile environments, and delicate ecosystems.

If we are to welcome so many visitors, we must make sure that the infrastructure can handle it, that the transportation mechanisms can keep up, that habitats are not encroached upon, and most of all, I believe we must truly emphasize the importance of responsible, sustainable travel for all visitors so that these places can remain havens for humans yet still retain their ecological integrity.

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