A visit to the Canadian Rockies will knock you out on two counts. One, the breathtakingly beautiful mountains and the other, the lengths gone into to ensure that the environment is preserved.

The Canadian Rocky Mountains or the Canadian Rockies are breathtakingly beautiful mountains and a precious ecosystem with a wealth of wildlife, lush forests including a large variety of flora, ice-capped peaks, and among the most picturesque landscapes you will see in the world. Glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, limestone caves, canyons and fossils of marine animals are part of this splendid landscape.

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are a UNESCO World Heritage site. According to the UNESCO, the Rocky Mountain Biogeographical Province has outstanding physical features — “Classic illustrations of glacial geological processes — including ice fields, remnant valley glaciers, canyons and exceptional examples of erosion and deposition — are found throughout the area. The Burgess Shale Cambrian and nearby Precambrian sites contain important information about the earth’s evolution.”

For all these reasons, these mountains are also great for activities like hiking, fishing, trekking, mountaineering, skiing, snowshoeing, camping, and sightseeing. This presents a challenge to the authorities because these beautiful mountains and valuable ecosystem could be likely target for commercial and economic exploitation.

So, how is this challenge being met? The Rockies are divided into many national parks. This means these are protected areas with many controls in place regarding what can be done within the area — whether by commercial organisations, other groups or the private visitor. This World Heritage label also implies many responsibilities for protection and special care.

Conservation

For example, there is the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site where four national parks are part of this site — Banff, which is the most popular and visited; Jasper; Kootenay; and Yoho. Besides, there are three British Columbia provincial parks — Hamber Provincial Park, the Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park. These parks are known for their scenic splendour and together receive millions of visitors annually.

The idea is to encourage tourism and allow visitors to enjoy the spectacular Rockies but to ensure that it is done in harmony with the environment. Many hotels exhort their guests to help them in being environment-friendly by asking them not to waste water or electricity. Some of them provide guestroom amenity containers which are bio-degradable. At some resorts you will see environmental reminder tips in the rooms. Many hotels use clean energy sources and recycle everything that is possible.

There is a strong civic consciousness ingrained within the citizens so that the environment is preserved. \

Something special

The Rockies also include the Burgess Shale site known for its fossil remains of soft-bodied marine animals. This was a World Heritage Site in its own right during the years 1980 to 1984, after which it was included in the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Sites label.

Under protection

These National Parks are protected by the Government of Canada and have rules for both tourists and residents. For example, each residential area within the Parks permits a limited number of residents to habituate the town. Building permits are not allowed to extend the boundaries of the town so those centres will not be able to grow into a large, unregulated, urban sprawl. Besides, there rules and regulations for tourists and passersby enforced by the Government of Canada. There are heavy fines for those who break the law.

At Banff

At the Banff National Park it is stated that visitors must give wildlife space as they are the important inhabitants; and that it is “against the law to touch, entice, disturb or otherwise harass any wild animals big or small”. For the same reason, your own pets must be put on a leash as they may harass or provoke the wildlife. You are not allowed to feed the wildlife, and coolers are to be stored in vehicles. Bear-proof bins are placed within the park (bears are not uncommon in the Rockies) and all garbage must be disposed in these bins only. It is the tendency of visitors, especially tourists, to take away flowers, feathers, branches, rocks or antlers/animal remains as souveniers. However, the Canadian law states that “it is unlawful to collect or remove any natural objects or historical artefacts (this includes berries, wildflowers, mushrooms, antlers, wood, interesting rocks along the river, etc.)”.