Two of these do occur in Canada's parks: The whooping crane in Wood Buffalo National Park — which stretches from northern Alberta into the Northwest Territories — and the Kentucky coffee tree in Pelee Island Park, about 60 kilometres southeast of Windsor, Ont. But the southern maidenhair fern is found in only one place in Canada: The Fairmont Hot Springs resort in eastern British Columbia. Called "southern" for a reason, the delicate fern grows like a weed in the southwestern United States, where it's not endangered at all. In B.C., it grows only along the run-off from the resort's hot spring, benefiting from the hot spot that biologists call a "microclimate." Otherwise, Canada is too chilly. The orchid is globally rare. In Canada it is found only in a few wet areas of southeastern Manitoba — again, not near a national park.
Naturalist Dan Brunton did the 1980s field research that led to the fern's status as endangered.
It "seems a weird way to promote the importance of national parks, or to provide public confidence in their grasp of the science that is critical to their successful management and planning of the parks system and its dependent biodiversity," he said.
Royal Canadian Mint spokesman Alex Reeves said the Mint is aware that two of the pictured species don't come from parks. But he said that's not the point. The coin is intended to recognize the parks' role in protecting endangered wildlife, and it doesn't matter where the individual examples come from, he said.
The official announcement says that for a century, "Parks Canada has remained the dedicated steward and steadfast guardian of Canada's vast stores of magnificent natural treasures."
But Reeves says it never specifically claims that the plants on the coin come from the parks.
Brunton still argues there are better choices.
"The reason we get excited about Canadian national parks is because they are a major way of expressing our part of our global conservation responsibility."
It's important that symbols of this be authentic, he says.
Michael Runtz, who teaches biology at Carleton University, also criticized the selection. "If we're celebrating national parks with species not found in those parks, I think it's absolutely ridiculous."
Source: Vancouver Sun