Print this page
UNESCO's Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) was launched with the goal of improving the relationship between people and their environment. MAB is an interdisciplinary programme directed at finding ways to satisfy human needs while ensuring the long term health of the natural system. The transdisciplinary and cross-cultural opportunities of UNESCO's mandate in the fields of education, science, culture and information and communication allow the Programme to promote scientific research as well as linking it with traditional knowledge about resource use. November, 2001 marked the 30th Anniversary of MAB. While the Programme has changed extensively over the years, it remains an opportunity for international cooperation and focus on the coordination of initiatives working towards improving the management of natural resources and the environment.
To learn more abut the MAB Programme please visit UNESCO's MAB web site.
Biosphere Reserves are key instruments within the MAB Programme. They are designed to meet one of the most challenging issues the world is facing today: how to reconcile economic development, social development and environmental protection through partnerships between people and nature. Biosphere reserves are select areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems that offer practical ways to reconcile modern development with the conservation of biodiversity. Before UNESCO designates a biosphere reserve, local people and organizations must have demonstrated their commitment to these principles.
A biosphere reserve should meet three basic criteria:
The reserves are internationally recognized, but remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. The reserves can serve as "living laboratories" where both government and non-governmental organizations collaborate to ensure that knowledge gained can be widely shared and put into practice. Internationally, local information and ideas are exchanged through The World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Biosphere reserves are organized into three interrelated zones - the core area, the buffer zone and the transition area. Usually, the core area is safeguarded from human activity and often contains a national or provincial park, a migratory bird sanctuary or similar protected area. The buffer zone or zones which surround the core can be areas of experimental research, or activities that accommodate education, training, tourism and recreation without hindering the conservation objectives of the core area. The outer transition area, often called "area of co-operation" in Canada, is the working landscape where most of the residents live and where natural resources are used to meet human needs. It is here that the local communities, conservation agencies, scientists, civil associations, cultural groups, private enterprise and other stakeholders decide to work together to manage and sustainably develop the area's resources.
There are 16 biosphere reserves in Canada. They are located in eight provinces, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts, and include a variety of ecosystems. In each one, activities are coordinated by a community-based organization or committee. Beginning with its first reserve in the 1970s, Canada's biosphere reserves were established as follows:
Please note that the next deadline to submit a new Biosphere Reserve proposal, including support letters, is September 31, 2012.
Canada's Biosphere Reserves are supported by the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association (CBRA/ACRB). Incorporated in 1997, CBRA is a member-based non-profit organization which provides coordination for its member biosphere reserves. The Association works to facilitate exchanges in information and co-operation on projects between the Biosphere Reserves in Canada.
The Canadian Man and the Biosphere Committee is an ad hoc committee of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
It provides advice on Canadian participation in the MAB programme, including the designation of new Biosphere Reserves and coordination of periodic reviews.
Members of the committee include representatives from the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association, the Canadian Biosphere Research Network, an individual Biosphere Reserve and individuals recognized for their qualifications, experience and contributions to the MAB programme in Canada.
Please note: Some of these publications have been made available for download in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To view them, you must have Adobe Acrobat © installed on your computer.