BC Parks Foundation: 9 Ways You Can Help Preserve Our Parks
Yervana has partnered with the BC Parks Foundation in an effort to promote sustainable tourism. The BC Parks Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to enhancing and preserving the legacy of BC parks for future generations. We interviewed CEO Andrew Day to figure out what Yervana – and you – can do to ensure our parks continue to thrive.
“Parks are core to our identity as British Columbians. Our most beautiful places are what make our home unique, and the reason many of us live here or come to visit. Our job is to inspire people to enjoy and take care of them. To pass on the legacy of the original earth to the future, undiminished.”
BC Parks Foundation
When Andrew Day joined the BC Parks Foundation in 2018 he had a tough challenge. BC’s parks system is the 6th largest in the world, with visits increasing to 25 million a year. At the same time they are rare in having no entrance fees, so funding is limited and stretched very thin over a big area. This led him to start asking some tough questions – What actions will have the greatest impact? Which initiatives produce real results? Asking these questions led to his realization that the tourism industry is in a good position to play a role in protecting the parks, and the best way they can do so is through sustainable tourism practices.
Sustainable Tourism is the Future
With Canada’s beautiful natural parks growing in popularity, the tourism industry is booming and tourist traffic is increasing. While this is great news for tourism operators, this is not necessarily the case for the environment. Tourism can have countless negative effects on the very environment people want to enjoy, which is why sustainable tourism needs to become the industry standard.
But what exactly is sustainable tourism?
Put simply, sustainable tourism requires tourism companies to be able to sustain both themselves and the environment it profits from. When these companies do everything possible to minimize their impact on ecosystems and work to preserve the natural beauty of our parks, both the company and the environment can thrive and be sustained for many years to come.
This requires tourism platforms like Yervana to be conscious of their impact on the environment and local communities, take steps to minimize said impact, and educate customers on the importance of sustainability and how they can help. That being said you don’t have to be a big tourism company to make a difference – every individual has the power to impact change.
The Downside of Tourism
Tourism without a focus on its impact on the environment comes with many repercussions. When proper care isn’t taken by people exploring the outdoors, wildlife is disturbed, plants are damaged, habitats polluted and precious ecosystems can be destroyed. For example, the number of forest fires is increasing in BC, with 40% due to human error. Careless mistakes like neglecting to put out campfires and smoking cigarettes fuel this problem, but even something as small as leaving behind glass bottles can spark a wildfire. As a sustainable tourism company, Yervana strives to educate explorers on what they can do to minimize these risks and how to contribute to the preservation of our parks.
9 Ways YOU Can Make a Difference
Sustainability starts with you – and it’s very basic. Andrew Day says enjoyment is the first step towards sustainability, and provided 9 simple but vital steps you can take to reduce your impact on our parks.
1. Get Outdoors and Enjoy!
With all this talk of protecting the parks through sustainable tourism, it’s important to remember to head out there and enjoy the great outdoors for yourself. Get outside, get passionate, and get energized to give back to the places you love.
2. Be Careful With Fire
In the wilderness, fire is something to be respected, and even feared. Especially in BC, forest fires are becoming more common. Because the smallest of sparks can start a wildfire, it is vital to always obey fire bans and dispose of your campfires, cigarette butts, and garbage safely.
3. Stick to the Trail
This may seem like a small detail – after all, what’s the harm in venturing a few feet off trail to check out a babbling brook or ancient tree? Unfortunately, one person’s footsteps can quickly become a well trodden path, leading to a spiderweb of trails that compact soil, trample plants, get people lost, and otherwise alter the natural habitat.
4. Let Wildlife Feed Themselves
Feeding local wildlife is a popular – and incredibly damaging – tourist activity. When animals are fed human food it can make them sick, and then they can pass these illnesses and diseases on to other animals. Also, feeding animals causes them to lose their fear of people and can result in them venturing into heavily populated areas and approaching hikers in search of food. Many animals end up getting shot.
5. Take only Photos, Leave only Footprints
The goal is to leave everything the way you found it, including rocks, shells, plants, animals and, of course, clean up any of the messes you create along the way, and pack out your garbage. The 7 leave no trace principles provide a good guideline for how to reduce your impact when out in nature.
One of the best ways to make a positive difference is to volunteer, whether it’s helping with trail maintenance or joining a cleanup crew. It takes an active community to keep parks beautiful, and you can become a vital part of the initiative. It can even be as simple as picking up any trash you see on your outdoor adventures!
For people who don’t have time to dedicate to a volunteer program, the simplest and most effective thing you can do is donate. The BC Parks Foundation is a non-profit organization, which means the funds are dedicated to protecting our parks. For every donation you give, The BC Parks Foundation can use that to bring in matched funding, doubling every dollar of your generosity, giving your gift twice the impact.
8. Spread The Love!
Even though these tips are simple, surprisingly few people are aware of their importance. This is why it falls on individuals like yourself to help spread awareness. Share your knowledge and passion for the parks with your friends. Talk about the beauty of BC and the risks it faces, and inspire others through your actions. Even better, take your friends on an Adventure so they can get a taste of what makes BC’s wilderness so special!
9. Support Sustainable Tourism Operators
Companies practicing sustainable tourism need your support if they are to thrive and make a difference. When you are looking to get outdoors with a guided activity, the most important thing you can do is look into the company you are booking with to see if they promote sustainable practices. If they don’t walk the talk or give back to nature, it’s safe to say they are doing more harm than good to the ecosystem and you should look elsewhere!
The BC Parks Foundation’s goal is to create the best parks system in the world by working with people like you and companies like us. To get there, Andrew Day’s advice is to “get out, be healthy, enjoy yourself, take your friends with you, and give back.”
Any time a Yervana Adventure is booked in BC, $2 from each guests’ fee goes to the BC Parks Foundation.
Help us practice sustainable tourism today!
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