Sustainable Development - Contact Nature

Sustainable Development



Contact Nature engages in consolidating and integrating the principles of sustainable development in all of its activities. 

More precisely, the organization took the following commitments, as with the sources cited: 

Develop recreotouristic activities that fully take in account of the current and future social, economic and environmental impacts, by answering the needs of visitors, professionals, the environment and of the local communities. 

Respect the sociocultural authenticity of the local communities, preserve their living and built culture as well as their traditional values, and contribute to the tolerance and intercultural comprehension. 

Guarantee long-term viable economic activities bringing to all involved parties positive equitable socio-economic value, notably possibilities of stable jobs, stable income, social services for the supporting community as well as contributing to fighting poverty. 

Offer respectful visits of the environment permitting to appreciate nature (as well as cultural elements past and present), promoting the conservation et allowing a positive and active socio-economic implication for the local population. 

Référence: Global Sustainable Tourism Council, 2019, Sustainable Development of Tourism, 2019, Tourism, ecotourism, and protected areas, 1996

Contact Nature s’est engagé dans une démarche bas carbone et finance l’achat de crédits carbone certifiés Gold Standard représentant 800 tonnes de GES par l’entremise du Fonds plein air 1% pour la planète.

Contact Nature received in 2022 the Excellence Tourism Award in the Responsible and Sustainable Tourism category.

Contact Nature proudly participates in the international collective 1% FOR THE PLANET and donates 1% of its annual sales to the Plein Air Fund 1% for the planet.

Contact Nature obtained an eco-responsible certificate of distinction with a score of 86% with the Les pages vertes program.

Action plan and sustainable development guidelines 

We invite you to consult the 2020-2022 action plan as well as the sustainable development guidelines we adopted. Please note that the documents are in French. 

action plan 2020-2022

Sustainable development guidelines




Positive impacts on the community 

Our actions generate positive and measurable benefits in the community.



Concept definitions 

Sustainable development  

The 1987 Brundtland report define sustainable development as: ‘’A development that answers the needs of the present without compromising future generation’s capacity to furfill their own needs. 2 concepts are required by this notion: the concept of ‘needs’ (in particular the essential needs of the most deprived, who it fits to allow the greatest priority) and the idea of limitation that our techniques and social organisation imposes upon the environmental capacity to answer current and future needs.’’ (Brundtland Report, 1987) 

Sustainable development is becoming a great challenge of our society. It is a very large notion and relies on more than the protection of the environment.
‘’Sustainable development relies on a long-term vision taking into account the interwoven relation between environmental, social and economic dimensions of development activities.’’ (Sustainable development law, article 2, 2019)
It must be simultaneously economically efficient, socially equitable and ecologically tolerable. The social aspect must be an objective, the economy a way and the environment a condition.
(Événements 3,0 , 2019) 

By taking into account these 3 great pillars, the sustainable development Law in Québec aims to:
‘’Maintain the environment’s integrity to assure the health and safety of human communities and preserve the ecosystems sustaining life;
assure the social equity to allow for the fulfillment of every woman and man, the blossoming of communities and the respect of diversity;
Aim for economical efficiency to create a prospering and innovative economy, ecologically and socially responsible.’’
(Ministry of the Environment and the climate change fight, 2019) 

Figure 1. Representation of the 3 dimensions and 4 characteristics of sustainable development. Source: A typology of sustainable development, Riffon, O. and Villeneuve, C. (2011) 

Seeing the importance of the indissociable characteristic of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, one of the important goals for an organization (like Contact Nature) wishing to conform to this approach is to be able to establish and evaluate yearly its growth targets and its repercussions on the economic, social and environmental stage. To establish and evaluate these 3 dimensions, the ‘’triple bottom line’’ concept was elaborated by John Elkington in 1994 (The economist, 2009).
The concept is very simple: at the end of the year, a ‘’state of results’’ must be realized on the economic, social and environmental stage.. (The Economist, 2009) 

Black bear observation
Black bear observation

Tourisme durable

Sustainable tourism is a form of tourism based on the respect of great principles of sustainable development. The Global tourism organization (United Nations institution charged of the promotion of responsible, sustainable tourism accessible to all) defines sustainable tourism as such: ‘’tourism that takes fully into account its present and future economic, social and environmental impacts, by answering to the visitors, professionals, environmental and the local community’s needs.’’ (Sustainable Development of Tourism, 2019)
Take note that tourism has become in 2015 one of the most important economic activities in the world, representing 10% of the GDP and 6% of the world’s exports. (World Tourism Organization, 2016) 

Concretely, we are talking here of management and operation techniques that oversee the touristic industry in all its components. These components are very complex and transversal. In order to establish base criteria to better define the destinations or businesses fitting in the sustainable tourism, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) created criterias with multiple partners, some of which United Nations agencies, ONgs, gouvernments and large touristic businesses (Global Sustainable Tourism Council, 2019). Those criterias created by the GSTC are regrouped in 4 categories: 

1: Demonstrate the sustainable aspect of the destination’s management (14 criterias) 

2: Maximise economic advantages for the local community and limit the negative impacts (9 criterias) 

3: Maximise advantages for the communities, visitors and culture; limit to a minimum the negative impacts (6 criterias) 

4: Maximise the beneficial effects on the environment and reduce the negative impacts to a minimum (12 criterias) 

Source: Global Sustainable Tourism Courncil, 2019 

In these large objective groups,  we can quickly identify 3 predominant dimensions: environmental, social and economic. The Global tourism organization goes in the same direction by indicating clearly that sustainable tourism must: 

1: Make an optimal use of environmental resources that are a key element of tourism development by preserving the essential ecological processes and by contributing to the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. 

2: Respect the sociocultural authenticity of the local communities, conserve their living and built culture as well as their traditional values, and contribute to the tolerance and intercultural understanding. 

3: Guarantee long-term viable economic activities bringing to all involved parties positive equitable socio-economic value, notably possibilities of stable jobs, stable income, social services for the supporting community as well as contributing to fighting poverty. 

Source: Sustainable Development of Tourism, 2019 

In 2006, the United Nations organization for education, science and culture wrote a report called ‘’Tourism, culture and sustainable development’’ (UNESCO, 2006). This report talks about the large dimensions of sustainable development and sustainable tourism by stating its importance and the role these practices can play in ‘’The capacity of the planet’s inhabitants to better live together and to contribute to elevate in men’s spirit the defenses of peace.’’ (UNESCO, 2006) 

Added are also reasonings on how sustainable tourism preserves the cultural and natural heritageto ‘’Make it available to all, better publicize cultures and civilizations, enhance daily living conditions and reduce poverty.’’ (UNESCO, 2006)
By reading the ‘’Tourism, culture and sustainable development’’ report, we can notice the complexity of a real execution of the principles of sustainable tourism, but also all the positive aspects that sustainable tourism can bring to enhance humanity and the planet. 

Here are some prominent elements that can be learnt from the report: 

  • Tourism ‘’rests on the fundamental principles of the exchange between people and is at the same time an expression and a cultural experience.’’ 
  • Tourism ‘’favors direct contact between people of different cultures.’’ 
  • There is a close link existing between cultural environment and natural environment and it is clear that ‘’by protecting both, we contribute to their protection and the renewing of their resources.’’ 
  • ‘’Tourism has the advantage of creating jobs and revenues at a relatively low cost by using cultural and natural resources.’’ 

Source: UNESCO, 2006 

Concerning the application of sustainable tourism, multiple tools exist, including the ‘’Sustainable tourism toolbox in global UNESCO patrimonial sites.’’ (UNESCO, 2019). This toolbox presents a 10 steps approach with a guide for each one to institute a management system for sustainable tourism. The 10 steps are: 

1: Understanding 

2: strategy 

3: Governance 

4: Participation 

5: Communication 

6: Infrastructures 

7: Value 

8: Behavior 

9: Investment 

10: Follow up 

Source: ‘’Sustainable tourism toolbox in global UNESCO patrimonial sites.’’ UNESCO, 2019 

The tool developed by the UNSECO for sustainable tourism in global UNESCO patrimonial sites will be highly useful as a reference document for Contact Nature’s strategic planning, in particular for its action plan. 

Cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing


A sub-category of sustainable tourism is ecotourism. Ecotourism has been defined as follows by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): 

‘’Respectful trips and visits of the environment in relatively undisturbed natural zones, to profit from and appreciate nature (as well as all past and present cultural elements) that promote conservation, have a reduced impact on visitors and allow an active and beneficial socio-economic implication for local populations.’’ (IUCN-International union for conservation of nature, 1996)
Concerning ecotourism, 9 conditions are required by the IUCN: for an activity to be qualified as ecotourism, it must present all following 9 characteristics: 

1: Promote a positive environmental ethic and encourage a responsible behavior in participants. 

2: Does not degrade the resource used. In other terms, it is not a consumption that degrades the natural environment. (Hunting for sport and fishing can be classified as tourism in wild zones (green) but are classed as adventure tourism, not ecotourism). 

3: It focuses on inherent values instead of extraneous ones. The installations and services can facilitate meeting with the inherent resource but never become full attractions and do not damage the resource. 

4: It is oriented towards the environment and not man. The ecotourists accept the environment as it is, not expecting it to change or be changed for their commodity. 

5: It must benefit the fauna and environment. The question being if the environment (not only the people) received measurable advantages, be it socially, economically, scientifically and politically. At least, the environment must generate a net benefice, contributing to its durability and ecologic integrity. 

6: It offers a direct meeting with the natural environment (and with all the associated cultural elements found in non developed zones). Zoological parks do not constitute an ecotourism experience (even if they can contribute to an individual’s interest for ecotourism). Greeting centers for visitors and interpretation presentations onsite can be considered as part of an ecotourism activity only if they orient people towards a direct experience. 

7: It actively associates local communities to the touristic process so they can profit from it, contributing to a better valorisation of the natural resources in this locality. 

8: The level of gratification for the tourist is measured in terms of education and/or in appreciation instead of terms of excitement or physical achievement. The last one being related more as adventure tourism. 

9: It necessitates a considerable preparation and requires deep knowledge from leaders and participants. The satisfaction taken from the experience is felt and expressed in an emotional and inspiring manner. 

Source: Tourism, ecotourism, and protected Areas, 1996. 

It can be seen through these conditions that ecotourism is an approach that presents tangible practices in the realization of sustainable tourism in natural environments. It is certainly one of the most responsible forms of tourism when it comes to protecting the planet’s natural and cultural heritage. 

Contact Nature has been accredited as an ecotourist enterprise in 2019 by Adventure Ecotourism Québec. Contact Nature already respects the great principles of ecotourism but could push its practices further and become a management example.