Environment Canada

Environment Canada

September 24, 2009 13:34 ET

Government of Canada's Investment in Canadian Biosphere Reserves Celebrated In Parksville

PARKSVILLE, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 24, 2009) - On behalf of Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Dr. James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, joined representatives from the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve today to celebrate the recent announcement of funding to support Canada's Biosphere Reserves. The Government of Canada is providing $5 million in funding over five years to 14 of the 15 biosphere reserves in Canada and the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association. This funding will provide the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve with $57,000 per year through 2013.

"This funding commitment reflects the importance the Government of Canada places on protecting our rich biodiversity across the country," said MP Lunney. "Canada's biosphere reserves are excellent examples of community-based initiatives that protect our natural environment while ensuring the continued growth of the local economy in an ecologically sustainable way."

"The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Foundation gratefully recognizes the generous support of the Government of Canada. This support will enable the Foundation to continue the challenging work of understanding our Biosphere in all its complexity," said Andrew Brown, president of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Foundation. "It enables us to work collaboratively with local governments, environmental groups and the general community to identify and promote innovative approaches to sustainable living and economic activity on central Vancouver Island," he said.

The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve was designated as a biosphere reserve in November 2000 by UNESCO, and includes the City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach, portions of the Regional District of Nanaimo, all watersheds between Lantzville and Dashwood, Vancouver Island, which flow into the Strait of Georgia, and adjacent waters in the Strait of Georgia, including the Ballenas/Winchelsea Islands.

"Our government is committed to supporting areas where biodiversity, conservation and sustainable communities are a priority," said Minister Prentice. "This biosphere reserve is a place of cooperation, education and experimentation, where scientists and managers can share research data to better understand man's impact on nature, and where local communities, environmental groups, and economic interests can work collaboratively on conservation and development issues".

Biosphere reserves are areas designated and recognized internationally by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) for demonstrating practical approaches to balancing conservation and development. Biosphere reserves are comprised of one or more core protected areas, a buffer area in which activities compatible with conservation occur, and a large area of co-operation where sustainable resource management practices are promoted and developed. The world network consists of 553 biosphere reserves in 107 countries.

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Biosphere reserves are areas designated and recognized internationally by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), under the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, for demonstrating practical approaches to balancing conservation and development. They include one or more core protected areas such as a National Park or a National Wildlife Area, for the conservation of ecosystems and native biodiversity, a buffer area in which activities compatible with the conservation area occur, and a large area of co-operation where sustainable resource management practices are promoted and developed. The Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA) has 15 biosphere reserves which span eight provinces and cover a total area of 102,237 square kilometres.

The Program began in 1970 with 553 sites currently recognized in 107 countries. People in a biosphere reserve demonstrate various ways to sustain local economies and resource use while also conserving biological diversity.

Governance mechanisms are established to utilize scientific knowledge in order to:

- Reduce biodiversity loss

- Improve livelihoods

- Enhance social, economic and cultural conditions for environmental sustainability

Biosphere reserves are volunteer-driven organizations that sometimes receive project-based funding, depending on individual circumstances, history and in-kind support, from sources such as government programs and private foundations.

Most biosphere reserves in Canada are incorporated as non-profit organizations, and some have charitable status. The others are administered through an existing organization in their area. Biosphere reserves program activities are decided locally, but some can be linked to national or international programs.

The biosphere reserves initiate projects that are implemented in partnership with interested business, non-government or government organizations. They also facilitate projects and activities of other organizations that fit with the goals of the biosphere reserves.

Examples of these projects include:

- establishing Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Plots (The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve also trains students at these plots in partnership with the University of Waterloo);

- working with the University of Toronto to develop local-scale climate models for climate change adaptation activities;

- creating a sustainable development educational program at Lac St-Pierre;

- holding sustainable tourism workshops at the Fundy Biosphere Reserve; and

- establishing projects that entails watershed assessment and active community outreach for individual farm producers at the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve.


The Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA) is an Ottawa-based non-profit charitable organization created in 1998 to provide support and facilitate communication and collaboration among Canada's biosphere reserves.

CBRA also provides a unified voice for national-scale endeavors, and promotes biosphere reserves as a model for community-based sustainable development. CBRA develops and directs national projects for the collective benefit of its member biosphere reserves, such as biodiversity monitoring, ecotourism development, mapping of landscape change, climate change adaptation, ecological restoration, development of cooperation plans and social monitoring. It also engages in fundraising, communications activities, and publication of educational materials.

CBRA is governed by a Board of Directors which consists of one representative director from each of the 15 biosphere reserves, plus one from Parks Canada and one from Environment Canada. The Board provides advice on CBRA project proposals and strategic directions, including fundraising and partnership strategies. During its annual general meeting held in June, CBRA started developing a strategic plan, which defines the roadmap for the Association for the next 5 years.


Following Budget 2008, the Government of Canada provided $5 million over five years to support Canadian Biospheres and the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association.

Of the 15 Canadian Biosphere Reserves 14 will be receiving funding; the fifteenth biosphere reserve, Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, already has a federal source of core funding.



Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations