Riding Mountain Forum – March 20-21

The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve (RMBR) hosts the 2009 Knowledge and Research Forum at the Elkhorn Resort, Spa and Conference Centre.  The purpose of the forum is:

With the assistance of knowledgeable local individuals, experts, researchers, institutes and agencies,

  • To identify the critical areas of knowledge and research that is needed within the RMBR to ensure healthy and sustainable communities, working landscapes and protected areas.
  • To identify an expanded list of individuals, research institutes and agencies that could be involved in future forums and initiatives
  • To identify a group of interested individuals that would provide on going guidance in the gathering of knowledge and research within the RMBR into the future.    

I look forward to participating in this forum, as an invited member.  Lots to learn.  The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, in my view, is one of the best locations in Western Canada for investment, business, research, and sustainable tourism over the next few decades.

Why? Because the emerging local carbon economy requires leadership communities where people, businesses, producers, and tourism operators can work together to demonstrate how our economy and environment can sustain each other.  We are blessed by having Riding Mountain National Park in our backyard.  

However, the economic investments that will help local people to sustain themselves will need to include clean energy production (wind, solar, geothermal), agriculture that demonstrates lower scales of production without intensive chemical management, cattle that are range-managed and grass-fed (not feedlot), environmental research and monitoring that is state-of-the-art (and complements the national park mandate), and the establishment of sustainable tourism businesses (new tourism experiences; opportunities for youth to learn about climate change and environmental science; new travel experiences; new B&B accommodations; year-round tourism).    

The Benefits

If we can sustain these types of activities, we will demonstrate community viability (wealth generated by economic activities that keeps local people here and help to nourish and protect the national park, water systems, and ecological health of the area), and long-term sustainability.  I’ll be Twittering as I learn from the forum.  Stay tuned!

Celes Davar invited to be on new Canadian Sustainable Tourism Advisory Council

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) announced on February 27 the new members of the Canadian Sustainable Tourism Advisory Council (CSTAC).   “We are thrilled by the depth of knowledge and the variety of backgrounds of the participants on the Advisory Council,” said TIAC President and CEO Randy Williams. “Ensuring that Canada preserves its natural heritage and lives up to its reputation as a green destination is a top priority for the tourism industry, and this group of experts will unquestionably help us move towards attaining this goal.” 

Celes Davar, president of Earth Rhythms, a learning adventure company operating in Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba, Canada) is one of the new members of this advisory committee.  “I am delighted by the news that I have been selected to be part of this very wide and unique group of tourism industry members from across Canada.  As one of two members from Manitoba (the other is Merv Gunter with Frontiers North – operating Tundra Buggy Tours and offering unique northern Arctic Canadian experiences), this is an important responsibility.  It has been my perspective that our tourism industry in Canada has not yet understood the depth and challenge of climate change and how it will affect our tourism operations and as well the expectations of our visitors travelling to, and within Canada.”

This new advisory council (see members here) is broad and deep.  I look forward to learning what we can do to assist TIAC in terms of a strong approach to implementing sustainable tourism initiatives in Canada’s tourism industry.  We have been advocating sustainability for our entire history as a company (13 years), and I am one of Canada’s trained Climate Change Project presenters (founded by Al Gore).  In May of this year, I will be travelling to Nashville, Tennessee to take part in the next phase of  The Climate Project.  It will be hosting a North American Summit for its existing climate change presenters from Canada and the US from May 14-16 in Nashville to launch a major movement by TCP, The Alliance for Climate Protection, and Al Gore to start building a formidable grassroots advocacy force to persuade policy makers to pass significant climate legislation this year.     

I deeply appreciate that TIAC has now moved forward deliberately into a much more active approach to engage the tourism industry in assisting with moving Canada forward on the sustainability agenda.  Tourism is a key driver in the global economy, and sustainable tourism practices and initiatives need to be integrated intentionally into the Canadian tourism industry.  I am sure that this committee will help Canada to develop leadership in ensuring that environmental sustainability is one of the three pillars of triple bottom line accounting, consistent with how all business development globally must proceed, quickly.