Community Connections | Citizen Engagement, Children And Youth, Immigrant Newcomers
Environment | Conservation, Sustainability
Living Standards | Education And Learning

Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley

We ensure the ecological integrity and well-being of the Bow Valley ecosystem through education, research and outreach. We promote sustainable communities and environmental stewardship by engaging youth, residents, visitors, and local businesses though outreach programs and our community resource center.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Enjoy living or playing in the Bow Valley? We help to make the Bow Valley more sustainable.

What can one person do? The rapid pace of human use in the Bow Valley and the associated pressures on the environment can make us question how any one individual can make a positive difference. However, everything we have accomplished as communities, as populations and as a human species has been the combined efforts of each persons’ steps in the right direction. Who we are as a community is the sum of all our individual actions.

We believe that everyone can take positive steps towards making our communities more environmentally sustainable.  Through our programs, the Biosphere Institute helps individuals, groups and businesses take, and celebrate, their own steps towards a more sustainable Bow Valley.

Big changes start with small steps. When we act together, our small actions create big changes.

Our Impact

What We Do

We are creative problem solvers that believe we can make our lives environmentally sustainable one step at a time. We’re a no-nonsense, constructive and very practical group of people that believe in the power of each person and each action no matter how small.

We’re about the people that live, work or recreate in our community. We work with our community to engage youth, residents, visitors, and local businesses in developing strategies, providing workshops, sharing information and developing practical solutions that are realistic and make a positive impact in their lives and in the environment.

We share information that is clear, down to earth and practical. Information that makes sense and helps create good choices. We facilitate big and small sustainable actions that make positive impacts.

The Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley is making a difference:

  • Advising local permanent and semi-permanent residents of the local communities of Banff, Canmore and Exshaw on how to reduce their waste, water, and energy use
  • Engaging thousands of local youth in environmental issues through workshops, movie-screenings and presentations
  • Helping restore aquatic habitat throughout the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country (4,500 kg of invasive plants and garbage removed to date)
  • Compiling local social, demographic, environmental, and economic data for Canmore Community Monitoring Reports to track important trends over time
  • Educating over 19,000 residents and visitors on how to avoid human-wildlife conflict through our WildSmart program

Our Institute received national and international awards for our programs including: 2016 Green Communities Canada Youth Engagement Award; 2016 and 2014 Green Community of the Year Award; and SHIFT 2014 Sustainability Award – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

  • These awards recognize the many champions who work and volunteer with Green Communities Canada and its member organizations. We were recognized as a trendsetter in transformational programming, partnerships, marketing, and community engagement; and for our programs that provide opportunities for youth to engage in active hands-on learning to better understand environmental stewardship (2016 GCC Awards found here).

Our Programs

How We Do It

Public Resource Centre

The Biosphere Resource Centre is the base for our award-winning programs and includes wildlife and sustainable community displays and resources. It provides information on local and regional ecosystem issues and houses an extensive bibliographic ecosystem database of more than 7,600 records, plus a public library of 2,700 regional reports and maps. Equipment is also available for public loan and includes Kill-a-Watt meters and aquatic restoration equipment (hip waders, garbage retrievers, boots, etc.). Find out more at

Sustainable Action Canmore/Banff

Are you interested in reducing your environmental footprint and taking sustainable action? Join almost 1,000 Canmore, Banff and Exshaw residents to receive sustainability tips (twice a month) to make your home, work and recreation more sustainable. Learn about local sustainability workshops, events, and rebates. Find out more at

Practical Workshops

Join us for our new Next Steps Cafés! Topics include: Solar Panels for your Home, Slash your Water Costs, E-Biking, Winterize your Home, and When your Home is Alone. You can also try our 55 minute Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products Workshop or our 40 minute Make Your Own Worm Composting Workshop. We also facilitate a  Household EcoTeam Workshop Series to help reduce your household’s environmental footprint. Get the tools you need to take practical actions to create a more sustainable lifestyle. Find out more at

Biosphere Youth Movies

The Biosphere Youth Movie-Making Program provides students in the Bow Valley the opportunity to teach other youth and the general public about the environment. The Biosphere Institute engages teams or classes of local youth in workshops to help write, direct, act in and edit their own movie shorts. Find out more at

Wildlife Edukits

The Biosphere Institute’s Wildlife EduKits are a core part of wildlife education for Bow Valley students. Youth learn about wildlife that live in the Bow Valley with hands-on artifacts including bear pelts and elk antlers. The Bear, Wolf, Elk and Cougar EduKits are loaned to teachers or presented by Biosphere Institute educators. EduKit programming reaches over 700 students each year in Bow Valley schools.

Aquatic Habitat Restoration

In the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country, high levels of human use in aquatic areas have resulted in a degradation of habitat quality. Invasive plants, garbage, fishing line and hooks reduce the quality of these riparian habitats. The Biosphere Institute has worked with Alberta Parks and 200+ volunteers to remove over 4,500 kg of invasive plants and garbage from aquatic habitat to date.

WildSmart Community Program

WildSmart is a proactive conservation strategy that encourages efforts by communities to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions. WildSmart’s goal is to develop a coordinated approach to education and outreach programs that aid in increasing public safety and enjoyment while contributing to sustainable wildlife populations. Find out more at

Canmore Community Monitoring Program

The Canmore Community Monitoring Program produces a bi-annual report detailing demographic, social, economic, and environmental trends and conditions in the community. The program was established to monitor and evaluate trends developing in the community. It was designed to assist with municipal and community decision-making, to serve as part of an early detection system that assists in identifying risk areas that threaten the health of the community, and to present a snapshot of the community’s progress towards its vision. Find out more at!mg_ld=452

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Get Inspired!  Join our “Small Steps” Program

The Biosphere Institute’s Small Steps program is a way for residents to take and then share their actions for sustainability with others in the community. Whether it is changing a light bulb or a big solar panel installation, sharing individual acts of sustainability is our way of promoting change. Find out more at

Bob and Priscilla Janes joined a Biosphere EcoTeam program and got inspired. They installed low flush toilets, energy efficient windows, an on-demand water heater and solar panels. They have even received electricity bills that state “credit – do not pay”!

Big changes start with small steps. When we act together, our small actions create big changes. Get inspired through one of our programs and by the steps others have taken, then tell us what you are doing so you can inspire others!  One person can make a difference!

Visit to see what others have done.

Try our Next Steps Cafés!

The Biosphere Institute has helped the Bow Valley community take many sustainable Small Steps. The Next Steps program is for residents ready to take sustainability to the next level. A series of interactive drop-in cafés will feature industry experts, demos, equipment loan and personal testimony from community members on a series of sustainable topics such as: Solar Panels for your Home, Slash your Water Costs, E-Biking, Winterize your Home, and When your Home is Alone.


Try a Worm Composting or Green Cleaning Workshop or join an EcoTeam program. Sign up for Sustainable Action Canmore or Sustainable Action Banff and receive sustainability tips to make your Bow Valley home more sustainable. Plus, you may be eligible to win free prizes! Learn about local sustainability workshops, events, and rebates.

  • See Worm Composting or Green Cleaning Workshop at Biosphere Activities
  • See our Canmore Sustainability Guide


Your financial support is essential to our ongoing success as a steward of the Bow Valley ecosystem.

Visit to securely process your donation and receive a receipt for income tax purposes.

  • Options are available for monthly or one-time donations.
  • You can also drop off or mail a cheque to Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, Suite 201, 600a, 9th Street, Canmore, AB T1W 2T2.


Want to help protect wildlife and ecosystems in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country? The Biosphere Institute seeks volunteers from May through October to help remove invasive non-native plants and litter from natural areas. All equipment is supplied.

Visit to help take care of the Bow Valley.

Stay Connected


E. Melanie Watt, Ph.D.

Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley


Charitable Number: 889128625RR0001

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Annual Operating Budget: