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the online magazine of the British Columbia Wilderness Tourism Association

Wilderness Stewardship Fund

WTA members make a connection between tourism's economic contribution and the importance of redirecting some of that benefit directly to stewardship and conservation of the environment so that both can be sustained.

Through Stewardship funding, WTA members and their conscientious consumers are donating financial resources, time, talent and economic patronage to protect and positively impact the environments they visit. This voluntary movement is helping to support biodiversity and habitat conservation, ecosystem resilience, and other environmental and socio- cultural improvements. Industry leaders who have strong environmental and social values and ethics are pioneering the movement.

Most travelers that participate in Stewardship funding become educated about local environmental, socio-cultural and economic issues. The program encourages a constructive interaction between travelers, tour companies and the environments being visited. By taking this approach, the Wilderness Stewardship Fund helps to inspire visitors to donate financial resources or time where it's most needed.

Why is Wilderness Stewardship Funding needed?

More than 1 million people travel BC's wilderness for leisure each year and there is an increasing demand for travel as remote corners of the world become increasingly accessible. Travel and tourism clearly contribute to impacts on the environment either directly or indirectly. However, targeted funding and work by organizations like the WTA could provide a real opportunity to reduce our collective impact.

Among the most severe environmental effects of travel are pollution, intensified or unsustainable use of land, the depletion of natural resources, depletion of key species and alteration of ecosystems.

Government budgets and foundation resources for environmental stewardship is decreasing, increasing the level of need.

Protecting the environmental (and socio-cultural needs) improves business and there is a growing movement toward corporate responsibility as it improves market differentiation and increases consumer demand .

Almost 90% of the North American population state that it is important for companies to not just be profitable, but to be mindful of their impact on the environment and society (Source: Corporate Social Responsibility: Consumer Understanding and Influence, Natural Marketing Institute, 2005)

How the Wilderness Stewardship Fund Works

The Wilderness Tourism Association set up the Wilderness Stewardship Fund (WSF) in 2008 as a means to invest in environmental stewardship and habitat conservation projects.

WSF is intended to provide support to stewardship or habitat conservation projects where financial need and stewardship priority is evident. Some operators or donors are very active in finding projects to support, others depend on recommendations from the WTA's Board and staff. In some cases the core work or advocacy of the WTA will be considered a project and members/donors will want WSF revenue to go directly to the WTA for this purpose.

The WSF is set up as a restricted fund in the WTA accounts. Revenue from the fund will be designated to qualified stewardship or habitat conservation projects and the WTA will receive a management/administration fee. Fund revenue comes from clients of WTA members or directly from donors. Some WTA members incorporate an additional fee into their tariff (similar to the One Percent for the Planet program), or they can present the WSF to their clients and generate funds through donations.

We know that guests and visitors by and large love the places they visit and want to help contribute to protect them. The WSF will help facilitate this connection. Ask your operator if they are participating in the Wilderness Stewardship Fund.

For more information on the
Wilderness Stewardship Fund or Donating to the Wilderness Tourism Association
please contact us.

Wilderness Stewardship Fund
c/o Wilderness Tourism Association
Box 423, Cumberland, BC,
Canada V0R 1S0

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Copyright © The BC Wilderness Tourism Association 2009. All rights reserved.
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