Why we do it

Why We Do It

Nature makes us feel healthy and alive. It connects us with ourselves and our community. It holds keys to our stories, our culture and wisdom for living. No matter what background, perspective or state of mind, nature always welcomes us and makes us feel whole.

In nature we find our way.

The best of nature is contained in our parks and Indigenous protected areas. In B.C., we are proud and fortunate to have the sixth largest park system in the world, containing the highest diversity of life in Canada. B.C.’s world class parks are home to iconic species that only exist here on this planet or that stop here on their terrific, long journeys.

We believe parks and Indigenous protected areas are core to being British Columbian, to our economy, our culture and our well-being. These places contain life’s original magic and we believe it is important that all people have a chance to connect with, share in and preserve it.

The demand for parks and protected areas is growing. The pressure on wildlife, habitat, traditional uses, infrastructure, and ecosystems is increasing through rising use and threats like pollution and climate change. The most treasured places in our great province need support or we risk losing what makes British Columbia the beautiful place we all love. 

That is why the BC Parks Foundation exists. We’re here to help you enjoy, enhance and protect parks and Indigenous protected areas so they flourish for now, forever, and for everybody.

Please consider joining us. When you support parks and Indigenous protected areas, you are passing along the magic of life. Forever.

Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal

British Columbia will have the greatest system of parks and Indigenous protected areas in the world, supported by an active and diverse community.

As part of that goal, we will give our all to work with First Nations and support international commitments to protect 30% of BC's lands and water by 2030 so we can enjoy and maintain the essential life support systems that nature provides.

Our Mission and Role

Our mission is to inspire and empower you to enjoy, protect, and expand parks and Indigenous protected areas in BC. Help keep BC beautiful, full of life, and resilient for now, forever, and for everybody.

We are an independent foundation. We are much like a hospital or university foundation, where we help enhance and expand parks and Indigenous protected areas above and beyond what government is able to do. We do not take direction from, report to, or raise money for government, but we do work cooperatively with them and proudly act as the official charitable partner to BC's system of parks and protected areas.

In order to achieve our mission, we select projects that align with our strategic priorities and meet our criteria. We then help produce or raise funding for them. In some cases, we undertake projects ourselves and in others we partner with volunteers and other groups. We also work with other foundations and partners to help leverage funding. 

While uncommon in Canada, parks foundations are common in the United States. There is a US National Parks Foundation, the majority of states have foundations, as do many cities. Some of these have achieved extraordinary results. For example, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has raised over $108 million for their parks in less than 20 years. The Golden Gate National Conservancy has raised more than $1 billion in parks support since 1981. What can we do in British Columbia for our most valuable places?

Letter from the CEO

British Columbia is one of the most amazing places on the planet. 

Everyone who lives in or visits B.C. has the good fortune to breathe clean air, drink fresh water, be in ancient forests and see wildlife in its natural habitat. In our parks and protected areas, you can still experience the source of genuine well-being – the untamed magic of life.

For many British Columbians, parks are home to happy memories and fulfilling experiences. Walking, camping, skiing, canoeing, riding, biking, climbing, fishing, swimming, recharging and connecting with yourself, friends and family. For First Nations people, the connection to Indigenous protected areas are especially long and deep. As Haisla elder Cecil Paul says, “These are not just places. Our stories are embedded in these places and we couldn’t survive without them. They contain all our wisdom for living.”

British Columbians are very proud of our incredible natural wealth. Whether it’s by enjoying nature by getting outdoors or just being happy knowing such magnificent and rare places still exist in the world, we all uphold these places as our common treasure. While most provinces and states require entrance passes or parking fees, B.C.’s parks are free for everyone to visit. That is pretty rare these days!

However, partly because of the huge number and size of parks and protected areas, BC’s provincial parks budget is small on a per hectare basis compared to most provinces and states. In 2011, the BC Auditor General found that we are “not successfully meeting the goal to conserve the ecological integrity in British Columbia’s parks and protected areas.” This challenge grows as the number of visitors increases and issues like biodiversity loss and climate change cause transformations across the landscape.

The BC Parks Foundation is the result of British Columbians coming together around a passionate belief that we need to go above and beyond to protect, enhance, celebrate and support our parks and preserve more protected areas in collaboration with First Nations. They are too important to our health, economy, identity and future - and to the species who live in them. Our most treasured places need our support or we risk losing the incredible natural legacy we are lucky enough to call home. 

People like you have amazing ideas, energy and resources. We come to you, respectfully and enthusiastically, to ask you to consider joining our magic community of park supporters. We call it magic because the community is always growing and achieving incredible things, and every contribution makes a difference, no matter the size, shape or colour.

Please consider supporting your parks and helping us preserve more protected areas through our work with First Nations. The places need you and now more than ever, the world needs more of the incredible nature B.C. has to offer.

Dr. Andrew Day

Our Relationship with the BC Parks Agency

The BC Parks Foundation is independent of BC Parks. We enjoy a great working relationship with the British Columbia Parks Agency and are their official charitable partner. Together, we are focused on making our parks even better. We are not an arm of government nor do we take direction from, report to or raise money for government. We are not an advocacy organization.

In our capacity as the official charitable partners of parks, we are able to bring governments, businesses, communities and donors together around the thing we all have in common - creating great parks and park experiences. This approach creates more support and long-term stability for the parks. 

Our Relationship with First Nations

We acknowledge and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and their relationships with the lands, waters and life in their territories. We seek to build positive relationships and respect for First Nations cultures within parks and we support Indigenous protected areas. The Foundation does not play a role in government-government bi-lateral negotiations.

Quick Facts about BC's Parks

  • British Columbians have protected over 14 per cent of our province – more than 14 million hectares in over 1,000 protected areas.

  • We have the sixth largest park system in the world.

  • B.C. is home to the highest diversity of life in North America. They are home to iconic species like salmon, bear, elk, caribou, lynx, moose, bighorn sheep and whales. Some of these creatures only exist here on this planet, and others stop here on their terrific, long, international journeys.

  • B.C.’s parks now receive over 26 million visits each year.

  • Parks are the backbone of our tourism economy, which contributes $7.9 billion to our provincial gross domestic product and $1.1 billion in tax revenue.

  • B.C.’s parks are the largest accommodation provider in our province. And that’s not just visitors from all over the world who love this beautiful place: 78 per cent of campers are British Columbians.

  • The number of parks in B.C. has increased from 385 to 1,032 since 1985.