Chapter 10. Environmental Stewardship
Numerous studies suggest society will face increasing pressure for scarce resources and a changing natural environment due to habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change (Hardin, 1968; Mercer, 2004; Williams & Ponsford, 2008; Wong, 2004; World Tourism Organization, 2008b). The tourism industry must recognize its considerable contribution to this global challenge and take aggressive steps to mitigate the impacts.
On a global scale, the tourism industry needs to recognize its release of significant carbon emissions and explore ways to reduce these while maintaining the mobility needed for travel. On a local scale, tourism stakeholders need to recognize the risk they pose to the destruction of local pristine environments and take steps to ensure the sustainability of their operations. Only by working together can we ensure a future for tourism and our society as a whole.
This chapter has addressed a major risk to the tourism industry — the threat of environmental impacts and disasters on businesses and communities. Chapter 11 addresses the concept of risk management and legal liability in the industry.
- BC Parks: the agency responsible for management of provincial parks in British Columbia
- Carbon offsetting: a market-based system that provides options for organizations to invest in green initiatives to offset their own carbon emissions
- Carrying capacity: the maximum number of a given species that can be sustained in a specific habitat or biosphere without negative impacts
- Crown land: land owned and managed by either the provincial or federal governments; Crown land also lies within First Nations Territories and much of this land is unceded by First Nations
- Crown land tenure: rights given to commercial organizations to operate on Crown land
- Direct climate impacts: what will occur directly as a result of changes to the climate such as extreme weather events
- Ecological footprint: a model that calculates the amount of natural resources needed to support society at its current standard of living
- Environmental accreditation or certification: a voluntary system that establishes environmental standards and regulates adherence to reducing environmental impacts
- Environmental Assessment Office: the provincial agency responsible for reviewing large projects occurring on Crown land in BC
- Environmental management: policies and procedures designed to protect natural values while providing a framework for use
- Environmental stewardship: the practice of ensuring natural resources are conserved and used responsibly in a way that balances the needs of various groups
- First Nations land: land under Aboriginal title or that is managed by First Nations
- Greenwashing: the act of claiming a product is “green” or environmentally friendly solely for marketing and promotional purposes
- Indirect environmental change impacts: what will occur indirectly as a result of climate change, including damages to infrastructure
- Ministry of Environment: the provincial ministry responsible for the environment in BC
- Monoculture: a farming practice that depletes the soil and encourages the use of pesticides and fertilizers for increased production
- Parks Canada: the federal agency responsible for management of national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas
- Private land: any land where private property rights apply in BC
- Responsible tourism: a tourism management approach that focuses on identifying important issues to local people and their environments, addressing those issues and reporting/monitoring those issues in an effort to “make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”
- Stewardship: having the duty of and then actively participating in the careful management of resources
- Sustainable development: planning and development that is mindful of future generations while meeting society’s needs today
- Sustainable tourism: a set of guidelines and management practices applied to all forms of tourism and destination types wherein areas of environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects are addressed
- Tourism carrying capacity (TCC): the maximum number of people that can visit a specific habitat in a set period of time without negative impacts, and without compromising the visitor experience
- Tourism paradox: the concept that tourism operations destroy its very requirements for success — a pristine natural environment
- Tragedy of the commons: the tendency of society to overconsume natural resources for individual gain
- What does carrying capacity mean? Provide an example from your local tourism industry.
- List five impacts that climate change will create and five corresponding implications for the tourism industry.
- Articulate the difference between provincial Crown land, federal Crown land, private land, and First Nations land.
- What is the Environmental Assessment Office and what are its responsibilities?
- Use the carbon footprint calculator to determine your household carbon footprint. How many tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) do you emit per year? Name three actions you could take to reduce your footprint.
- Explain what the tourism paradox is, giving examples from your local tourism industry.
- What is sustainable tourism and what are some important things to consider within a tourism destination for sustainable tourism to work? How is a sustainable tourism approach similar and/or different to a responsible tourism approach?
- This video from the David Suzuki Foundation presents the case that insurance companies are reacting to climate change because it is impacting them financially through claims after extreme weather events. Watch the video Your insurance is being affected by climate change, here’s how. What do you think? Will insurance companies continue to offer coverage in the face of increasing extreme weather events and large-scale insurance payouts?
- Visit the website of The Story of Stuff Project. Watch the movies and review the fact sheets. Reflect on the message that the organization is delivering and answer the following questions:
- What is the core message of the organization? Why is it important?
- How can you as an individual make a real change to mitigate consumptive behaviour?
- Relating these principles to tourism, how would you implement them in a tourism company?
Case Study: Qat’muk / Jumbo Mountain Resort
The proposed Jumbo Mountain Resort within Ktunaxa Territory near Invermere BC had long been one of the most controversial tourism developments in BC. Proponents claimed that it will add a world-class skiing resort product to the economy. Opponents argue that the environmental impacts are not worth the limited economic return it offers, including threatening grizzly bears and other sensitive species (Lavoie, 2014). The Ktunaxa Nation did not consent to the development and fought the proposal in court. Ultimately, the Nation was victorious in court, and the final statement from the Ktunaxa Nation, including outcome of the 2020 decision [PDF], may be found online.
The planning process for the resort had taken over 20 years with initial permits issued in 2004. Since then the project faced several delays in order to clear conditions of its environmental assessment, one of which was to receive consent from the Ktunaxa Nation. In December 2014, the project was delayed again as the government asked for more time to evaluate whether the newly poured foundations for lodge buildings were located in avalanche zones (Shaw, 2014). Ultimately, the proposed ski resort area became part of a new Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area spanning approximately 70,000 hectares.
Conduct your own research about Qat’muk and the originally proposed Jumbo Mountain Resort using a minimum of three sources, and answer the questions below.
- What are some of the negative socio-cultural and environmental impacts listed by those opposed to the resort?
- How might those impacts have been mitigated? Did the company take any steps to do this?
- What did this case study teach you about informed consent with Indigenous peoples?
- Given documented record warm temperatures and low snowfall in other resort areas of the province, do you think new ski resorts are a good long-term investment? Why or why not?
- What is the progress of the project today or any new resorts being developed in BC today? Do a scan of social media and news sites and try to determine where public opinion lies on new resort developments within BC.
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