What is an IDSR?

According to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), an International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) is a "public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area.  The International Dark Sky Reserve consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and receives benefits from them as well. The International Dark Sky Reserve is formed through a partnership of multiple land owners and/or administrators that have recognized the value of the starry night through regulation and/or formal agreement and/or long term planning."’ IDA also defines dark sky communities and parks.

In the past, some regions around the world proceeded to their own certification as "Dark Sky Reserves".  This was due to the fact that there was no organization enabled to deliver an international certification based on specific criteria. In fact, before 2006, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) was the only organization that had a recognition program in place to acknowledge communities efforts to reduce light pollution. Concerned that this would affect the credibility of a real dark sky protection plan, IDA put together a working committee to define and oversee "International Dark Sky Reserves", "International Dark Sky Parks" and "International Dark Sky Communities".  The Mont-Mégantic region served as a model for elaborating minimum criteria to be met in order to be certified.

Public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission of a large peripheral area. An IDSR consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and receives benefits from them as well. The International Dark Sky Reserve is formed through a partnership of multiple land owners and/or administrators that have recognized the value of the starry night through regulation and/or formal agreement and/or long term planning.

Park or other public land possessing exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where light pollution is mitigated and natural darkness is valuable as an important educational, cultural, scenic and natural resources.

A town, city, municipality or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of quality lighting codes, dark sky education, and citizen support dark skies.

Following the creation of Mont-Mégantic IDSR, other reserves have been certified by IDA around the world. Moreover, other parks and municipalities have followed the lead of pioneers like the City of Flagstaff in Arizona and Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah. We can only welcome the number of Dark Sky reserves, communities and parks that continues to grow, thus contributing to the safeguard of this natural heritage for us all.

Besides these many places certified by International Dark Sky Association (IDA), other organizations have also lead similar protection programs, mostly in North America and Europe, with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and Starlight Foundation.