Flying a Drone in National Parks in Canada
August 2, 2023
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Flying a Drone in National Parks in Canada

Flying a drone over national parks is one of the most longed-for activities.

Seeing the enchanting forests, gushing waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, or the undisturbed wilderness encircled by an equally stunning environment is breathtaking.

And the timely capture of a mountain lion making its kill is an award-winning photograph.

But it is not as simple as it appears.

You must obtain permission from the Field Unit Superintendent of Parks to fly your drone over any national park in Canada as you would in other unrestricted regions.

Here is why you can’t fly your drone in Canadian national parks, exceptions, and how to use drone maps to get the best photos and videos.

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Why Can’t You Fly Drones in Canadian National Parks?

Parks Canada has set restrictions on drone usage in parks because:

  1. Limit wildlife disturbance as most animals are usually very sensitive during breeding and nesting.
  2. Ensure that you do not harm birds that may view a drone as a predator causing them to panic and abandon nests or get hurt as they try to flee.
  3. National parks are popular tourist destinations because of the different wild animals, the breathtaking landscapes, and the tranquil environment filled with nature’s soothing sounds. However, the constant buzzing of drones will drown out the natural soundscape that nature provides, reducing the overall experience that we seek when visiting parks.
  4. Protect cultural and historical sites from prying eyes or potential damage. Since most Canadian national parks have indigenous heritage sites, archaeological remains, or structures with historical value, drones flying by can cause damage or disturbance to these areas.

Exceptions to the Prohibition

Field Unit Superintendents can permit you to use drones but you have to obtain the proper permission and permits.

This includes ensuring that you meet all the Transport Canada requirements to fly a drone even before seeking a special permit.

First, contact the Field Unit Superintendents responsible for the national park you want to fly your drone.

Next, gather information about their drone policies, any restrictions, and the permit process.

Then, familiarize yourself with the guidelines and requirements so that when you are applying for permission, you understand what you need to do.

Remember, these are the only circumstances that the Field Unit Superintendents will permit you to fly your drone in national parks:

  • Any research and scientific study conducted within the national park like monitoring wildlife, studying habitats, or conducting environmental assessments.
  • Commercial filming and photography but you must obtain the necessary permits.
  • Special events hosted by Parks Canada for recreational use like capturing aerial footage for educational purposes, or supporting park management operations.

Plan National Parks Flights Using Drone Maps

While flying over uncharted territory in the National parks, you need a visual representation of the park’s boundaries, restricted areas, and flight restrictions.

This helps you plan your flight paths accordingly.

However, drone maps do come with their benefits and drawbacks and the table below lists some of them.

Pros of using drone maps in national parks  Cons of using drone maps in national parks 
Provides a visual representation of boundaries and designated zones Map accuracy and reliability may vary
Enhances situational awareness for safe drone navigation Limited real-time information on temporary flight restrictions
Assists in compliance with park regulations Overreliance on technology without on-site assessment
Contributes to the protection of wildlife and habitats Interpretation errors leading to misunderstandings
Helps plan drone flights effectively

Learn How to Leverage Drone Maps While Flying in National Parks

Before you venture into the national park, after you obtain authorization you need a drone map to help you identify the restricted areas easily.

And since drone maps require deep understanding to leverage their full potential, you need to learn how to use them from professionals like Coastal Drone.

Our experts will teach you effective flight planning techniques that integrate drone maps in our mapping and geomatic course.

This helps you identify suitable spots for take-off and landing without messing up with the ecosystem. It also allows you to select the best flight paths to record the most beautiful moments nature has to offer.

But we don’t just teach you how to use drone maps effectively; we also show you how to fly a drone like a pro to get the best shots.

Contact us today to start your photogrammetry and mapping lessons, and have you flying over Canadian National Parks as soon as you have approval.

Want to learn more?

This content and more is covered extensively in our five-star online drone pilot ground school. We offer both Basic and Advanced online training courses to help you get ready for the Transport Canada online exams at your own pace from the comfort of your home.

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