Located in the southwestern corner of Alberta, the Waterton Biosphere Reserve [WBR] is one of only 16 biosphere reserves in Canada. The WBR area encompasses some of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse landscapes in the Canadian Rockies and prairie grasslands. Designated in 1979 by UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization], the WBR fosters and encourages a sustainable, community-based regional economy, with quality biodiversity, landscape and social values.
Biosphere reserves are recognized internationally for demonstrating practical approaches to balancing biodiversity conservation and sustainable human use of the land. The World Biosphere Reserve Network currently consists of 621 reserves in 117 countries  — each a celebrated part of UNESCO’s ‘Man and the Biosphere’ Program.
The Waterton Biosphere Reserve includes a protected 505 km2 core area in Waterton Lakes National Park, but extends well beyond the national park to include a buffer zone of surrounding private ranch, farm and residential land, and a broad transition zone that supports many people in a wide range of economic activities.
Currently, the transition zone is loosely defined. In the WBR, the area of interest extends at least as far as the M.D. of Pincher Creek, Cardston County and Crowsnest Pass, including the Piikani and Kainai Reserves, and a portion of the Rocky Mountain Forest Reserve. Here, the goal of sustainable resource use is explored and encouraged through research, education, and community-based planning.
Land use in the buffer and transition zones is not regulated or restricted in any way by having biosphere status. UNESCO has no authority or regulatory powers within a biosphere reserve, nor does it wish to have.
Over the last 30 years, volunteers working on behalf of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve have supported our communities in many practical ways, by providing funding and support for projects, forums, and research that addresses local land management concerns.
The Waterton Biosphere Reserve is a living demonstration of the value we place on our natural and cultural resources, our traditional livelihoods, and our commitment to work together as good stewards of the land we hope to pass on to future generations.
We invite you to get involved in the future of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve!