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Nik started his professional career with the Forest Management Institute and later moved to the Lands Directorate of Environment Canada. He took a leading role in bringing broad ecological thinking to the Government of Canada in the developing field of land mapping of ecosystems. Nik was behind the creation of ecological maps for some of Canada’s most noted parks, including mapping the vegetation of Gatineau Park.
In the 1980s, Nik was recruited by Parks Canada and initiated their fire management programme with the aim of restoring healthy ecosystems in national parks. Nik also played an important role in helping Russia develop their protected areas programme. In that time period, Nik recognized the value of ecological restoration and became active with the Society for Ecological Restoration. He served as the Program Chair for the first meeting outside of the USA in Waterloo Ontario and served as the first Chair of the Society. Previous two leaders were called President.
In 2001, Nik became the Director General of National Parks. He was responsible for monitoring the ecological integrity programme and the Species at Risk Act, and earned a reputation as a champion of conservation. He was instrumental in bringing SER to the attention of the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) and in turn SER joined as a member of IUCN.
At the 2004 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Nik was elected Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). During his time as Chair, IUCN WCPA has influenced the CBD by becoming their principal advisor on the Programme of Work on Protected Areas. Nik has promoted the importance of youth and has supported efforts to ensure that there is increased awareness and understanding of the value and role of protected areas in meeting such global challenges as combating climate change and desertification.
In Feb 2012, Nik was honored with the J.B. Harkin Award for his life-long commitment to Canadian conservation. The award, named after the “Father of National Parks” J.B. Harkin, honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the conservation of Canada’s parks and wilderness. More recently, Nik was awarded the Gold Leaf Award by the Canadian Council for Ecological Areas, a medal from the Brandwein Institute and the Fred Packard Award from IUCN for his lifelong work in conservation.