Wildlife Guidelines for Backcountry Tourism / Commercial Recreation in British Columbia

In order to ensure that backcountry recreation activities are conducted in a way that does not affect the current distribution of wildlife, the sustainability of their populations, or the integrity of their habitats, guidelines were developed by the Ministry of Environment of BC and reviewed in 2006.The guidelines are based on results of science and operational experience and meet the legislative and policy needs of government as well as the sustainability objectives of both tourism and government.

The recommendations address commercial tourism operators that conduct recreational activities on Crown land as well as water-based activities. However, the guidelines may be applied by all backcountry recreational users.

The guidelines are listed in a consistent structure throughout the document and are organized by categories of recreational activity and season as well as by rough ecosystem/habitat types. Guidelines concerning specific species in particular only occur with species that are at risk or of regional interest, are widely spread throughout the mentioned area or need further guidelines.

The guidelines cover six main issue categories including degradation of soil, air and water quality, integrity of vegetation communities, direct disturbance of wildlife, integrity of fisheries resources and special management for specific values of concern. The concerns are ranked by potential risk to wildlife and their habitats.

Furthermore, the guidelines are compiled by results, desired behaviours, indicators and limits. The results state what the guidelines attempt to achieve and the desired behaviours are the actions by users, which are most reasonable to achieve the mentioned results. High risk issues include indicators, which declare what needs to be measured  in order to determine if results are being achieved, and limits, which clarify acceptable bounds of the measured indicator.

Commercial recreation operators are obligated to be aware of wildlife and habitat values within their areas and are responsible for understanding the guidelines that are related to their activities. If the recommended behaviour cannot meet the expectations of the guidelines, operators may propose alternative strategies that need to be approved by the government, clarifying behaviours that lead to the desired result.

The recreational activity guidelines are organized by form of activity and season. Within this structure, habitats are listed.

Activities include aerial-based recreation, motorized recreation (snow-free or winter), non-motorized recreation (snow-free or winter) and boating.

Listed habitats involve grassland, alpine/tundra, freshwater, foreshore and forests.

The guidelines have been established as a means of ensuring the coexistence of environmental values and tourism recreational activities, and serve as an addition to any relevant policies or regulations.

In order to facilitate the participation for operators, further information on sensitive species and habitats is hyperlinked at the end of the document. Operators are asked to inform themselves about topics such as ungulate winter ranges, species-at-risk recovery planning processes and relevant land use plans for their area. In addition to this, interactive maps are provided to get an understanding of the recreational areas and their boundaries.

  • Source Ministry of Environment. May 2006. Wildlife Guidelines for Backcountry Tourism/Commercial Recreation in British Columbia. Available at : http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/twg/documents/wildlife_guidelines_recreation_may06_v2.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].