Our June 21 AGM could be the most important meeting in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserves 10 year history. We have been told that we are not living up to UNESCO standards in creating a model of sustainability or in maintaining our biological diversity. While no one likes criticism its hard not to recognize some kernels of truth.
The Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem an important component of the MABR's natural history has been classified as one of Canada's most endangered and by the British Columbia's Forest Practices Board as globally imperiled. (1% in original condition) We are currently transforming some of the last vestiges of it into 'trophy homes' and cut blocks.
We are also home to BC most endangered mammal the Vancouver Island Marmot. We have no provincial endangered species legislation with teeth.
Our buffers zones, the regions riparian areas, have less protection now than when we were incorporated.
We are facing a major coal project that will have repercussions not just to our ecosystems, but to our socio economic fabric potentially impacting our fisheries, our tourism, our sense of identity, our health, our transportation, audio sound scape, and the release of persistent organic pollutants into our biosphere from needed dredging in Port Alberni.
How we can support our communities and other life forms and create a model sustainable society when few people can even agree on what defines constitutes a sustainable society is not small task. Add to this the complication that the biosphere may need to maintain a relatively neutral position on the merits of individual proposals confining ourselves more to requiring a fair and democratic process and adequate study and analysis of the environmental and socio economic consequences in relation to our mandate of the preservation of biological diversity and the environmental and socio economic consequences in relation to our pursuit of sustainability and we qualify as candidates for a headache remedy commercial.
Our assets are living in a treasure of a region that inspires the passions and talents of our community to help protect its future.
We need you! If you care about this region and believe that being part of an international body with over 500 potentially supportive brother and sister biospheres around the globe is a worthwhile contribution to its protection, come out to the ABM on June 21, help us define our agenda and goals either as members or think about joining the board.
On the positive side we have two wonderful staff in Karen Hunter and Ceri Peacy. They are getting on with many of the initiatives that are engaging the community and achieving some of the values that the Man in Biosphere movement represents. I believe that if the 10 year review had been conducted today we wouldn't be getting most of these failing grades.
For those of you who haven't seen it here are the:
Recommendations of the 17th meeting of the International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves, 16-18 February 2011, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris
EXAMINATION OF PERIODIC REVIEW REPORTS RECEIVED SINCE THE LAST ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING
Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve, Canada
The Advisory Committee welcomed the report provided by the Canadian authorities and noted that the review was conducted by two external reviewers and based on interviews with local communities, scientists and the biosphere reserve staff.
The Committee welcomed the positive achievements reported. The Committee also expressed concerns about changes occurring since the biosphere designation in 2000: particularly the extensive urban development and the rapid increase of the population, especially of older age groups who place specific demands on social and medical services in the region: this coupled with high demand for land adn recreation activities with expensive "trophy style" private home development, as well as growth in tourism, place pressure on the physical and social infrastructures and on the protection of ecosystems (old growth forests, coastal wetlands, marine, terrestrial and aquatic). The report describes several environmental, social and governance issues involving First Nations and local communities indicating a decrease in the biosphere reserve integrity. This observation indicates that the site was not satisfactorily meeting the Statutory Framework Criteria and recommended the the Mountain Arrowsmith Biosphere Foundation (MABF) prepare and implement an overall strategy and action plan that addresses the critical issues mentioned in the report to meet the biosphere reserve standards by 2013.
There you have it. A little ambiguous. They may have some failing grades themselves. (The "Mountain" Arrowsmith Biosphere Foundation?
The point is we can fix this and make our biosphere a shining example of what can be achieved by a talented and engaged citizenry.