United Nations Biosphere Reserve
The biosphere is that part of our planet that supports life. Biosphere reserves are special places chosen to become models of how we should live with nature. The Biosphere Reserve Program, initiated in 1974, is a network of over 350 sites around the world that share ideas and experiences. It is part of the larger MAB (Man and the Biosphere) Program of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Each biosphere reserve represents one of the world's important ECOSYSTEMS and is divided into zones: a protected core (such as a park or wildlife area); a buffer zone around the core; and a zone of co-operation, where people live and work. They are designated by UNESCO to do 3 things: help conserve BIODIVERSITY; demonstrate sustainable development; and build the local capacity of people and organizations to deal with human and environmental issues.
Biosphere Reserves in Canada
Designation of a biosphere reserve does not confer any legal status under Canadian law. People and agencies participate in biosphere reserve activities on a voluntary basis, and local people generally co-ordinate these activities. National co-ordination is provided by a non-profit organization, the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association. There are currently 11 biosphere reserves in Canada, and each is unique.
MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, Qué (1978), has a core area with a record of extensive ecological research after 1958. It contains a town and a rich agricultural area on Rivière RICHELIEU near Montréal. Research, education and tourism are major activities.
Waterton, Alta (1979), contains WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK, ranch land and forest areas. It has carried out many research and education projects on wildlife and ranching issues. Waterton is also a key part of the Yellowstone-to-Yukon corridor for wildlife migration.
Long Point, Ont (1986), is based on a 32-km peninsula in Lake ERIE. It includes a national wildlife area, small towns, farms, forests and recreation areas. Long Point has made significant progress with community involvement and interagency co-ordination.
Riding Mountain, Man (1986), contains RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK and almost a million hectares of surrounding land, primarily agricultural. Educational workshops for farmers and studies of landscape change and habitat are major biosphere reserve activities.
Charlevoix, Qué (1989), is located on the St Lawrence River and contains current and proposed provincial parks and an ecological reserve. The economy is based on tourism, farming and forestry, and biosphere reserve activities focus on landscapes and tourism.
NIAGARA ESCARPMENT, Ont (1990), extends 725 km from the Niagara River to the end of the BRUCE PENINSULA. It contains federal and provincial protected areas, and recreation areas. Biosphere reserve activities include monitoring, tourism and education.
CLAYOQUOT SOUND, BC (2000), is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which contains national and provincial parks, marine areas, aboriginal lands and forests. Proposed activities include youth leadership, aboriginal forestry and ecotourism.
Redberry Lake, Sask (2000), is an agricultural area containing a federal migratory BIRD SANCTUARY and a provincial wildlife area. Proposed biosphere reserve activities include monitoring, stewardship, sustainable agriculture and ecotourism.
Lac Saint-Pierre, Qué (2000), is an enlargement of the St Lawrence River that is surrounded by the largest freshwater floodplain in Québec. The biosphere reserve consists of a Ramsar site (1998) and of urban, agricultural and industrial areas. Proposed activities include monitoring the effects of urban and industrial wastewater and of bank erosion, sustainable agriculture and ecotourism.
Mount Arrowsmith, BC (2000), is on the eastern side of Vancouver Island and consists of temperate forest and marine components. Its core area includes provincial parks and national and provincial wildlife management areas. Research and public education have been ongoing for several years and have focused on community awareness of ecological issues and community understanding of UNESCO's biosphere reserve concept.
Southwest Nova, NS (2001), includes the 5 counties of southwestern Nova Scotia. Its core conservation area consists of 2 contiguous natural areas: KEJIMKUJIK NATIONAL PARK AND HISTORIC SITE and the Tobeatic wilderness area. Activities include promoting sustainable forestry, tourism and other development consistent with the conservation of ecological and cultural integrity.