A Biosphere Destination Certificate for the Thompson Okanagan good sign following the restart of the national park process Mark Brett/Western News

A Biosphere Destination Certificate for the Thompson Okanagan good sign following the restart of the national park process Mark Brett/Western News

Biosphere designation boosts national park drive

Certification outlines conservation as key part of sustainable tourism development

A Biosphere Destination Certificate for the Thompson Okanagan, following on news of a new process for a national park reserve, can only be a good sign according to the South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Network.

“Not only have we been recognized for the amazing landscape which surrounds us, but also our commitment to preserving the land, wildlife and local cultures for future generations,” said Doreen Olson, National Park Network co-ordinator. The group has long been an advocate for sustainable tourism in the region, as an economic driver compatible with conservation.

“This region has extraordinary beauty, yet the grasslands are extremely vulnerable. We are pleased to see our community acknowledged for its’ sustainable tourism,” said Olson, who also congratulated the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association for bringing international recognition for sustainability to the region. The Biosphere Destination certificate is the first awarded in the U.S. or Canada.

“A national park reserve is central to a sustainable tourism strategy, which would benefit the local economic, social and cultural values,” said Bruce Passmore, executive director for the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “Together these two recent announcements show progress and commitment to building green jobs and a sustainable economy in B.C.”

This designation will serve as a guiding principle, holding that the region must actively “contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems and biodiversity,” according to the Biosphere Tourism website.

“Not only is this day a landmark to be celebrated, it is a pledge to continue to build in ecologically and socioculturally responsible ways,” said Olsen, adding that the recent commitment made by leaders from the Okanagan Nation Alliance, federal and provincial governments has potential to build the local green economy through sustainable jobs and land protection that will ensure the region holds true to the values outlined in the Biosphere Destination Certificate.

Related: Commitment to South Okanagan National Park renewed