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Protecting Canada's Forests

How Outdoor Recreation Is Essential for Canada’s Forest

Franz Plangger

Executive Director of Outdoor Council of Canada 

Richard Vinson

Chair, Leave No Trace Canada

Sandra Riches

Executive Director of BC AdventureSmart

Our forests are burning at an unprecedented rate, and so developing a relationship to our natural spaces is more important than ever.

Spending time outdoors strengthens people-nature connection and increases the likelihood of private and civic sustainability actions. Non-motorized outdoor activities are one of our country’s greatest assets in connecting Canadians to nature.

Breathing the loss of our forest

As communities burn and people are displaced, we all experience and breathe the result of the increasing tension between our way of doing business as usual and the limits of the planetary biome. The baby boomer generation will soon complete its entry into the golden years of seniority. As such, air quality is becoming increasingly important in regard to quality of life and mitigating deadly disease for this generation. We hear more and more stories of children being scared and of parents being unable to provide good answers. Nowadays, few are the people who can comfortably continue to ignore the impacts of our decades-long social and political choices.

Going outside to reconnect

Forests are critically important for the well-being of our nation, our species, and the animals we all have a relation to.

Outdoor activities, such as hiking, paddling, and cross-country skiing, are an effective means for individuals to rekindle the relationship we all have with the forest and the natural eco-systems it’s part of. Being outside on the land allows Canadians to see the forest and develop a personal connection with it.

Our country boasts a unique offering of urban natural areas, nearby rural areas, parks, and remote land. However, to visit these spaces safely and in a sustainable manner, it’s important to know how to be on the land.

Programs like BC AdventureSmart give the foundational tools for individuals to go outside safely, helping to reduce the number and severity of search and rescue incidents in British Columbia. 

Organizations like BC AdventureSmart, created in 2004 by, and supported by, the BC Search and Rescue Association, are partnering with responsible corporate partners such as BC Parks, Destination BC, Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada, the 78 B.C. search and rescue groups (3,400 volunteers), and destination marketing organizations throughout B.C.

Organizations like Leave No Trace Canada are partnering with responsible corporate partners such as Subaru Canada and bringing us the “Leave No Trace” pledge. This fantastic program enables Canadian to both go outside with minimal impact and support the planting of trees to rejuvenate our forest. 

Finally, organizations like the Outdoor Council of Canada provide training through the Field Leader Program for those who wish to bring others outside and share the connection to nature.

Alternatively, outdoor programs, which include camps, guiding outfits, outdoor centres, cultural rediscovery, volunteer outdoor clubs, and many more, offer meaningful experiences, enabling connections which can last a lifetime.

We care for what we love

Imagine the choices we would make if 39.5 million Canadians had a direct, personal connection to at least one forest. If Canada had become an outdoor nation in past decades, we may have avoided some of the destruction we currently live through. It’s not too late. We can begin the shift toward more time outside and create a future where our forests thrive and provide clean air, clean water, and clean enjoyment for all.

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This article is a collaboration between Leave No Trace Canada, BC AdventureSmart and the Outdoor Council of Canada.

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