On 19 June 2019 the Isle of Wight's application to join the World network of Biosphere Reserves was finally accepted. We offer our sincerest congratulations to everyone involved in achieving this fantastic result.
Full details of the event, plus the presentation video, can be found here:
At the UK BR National committee meeting in Dublin on 1 April the following updates were received from the UK Biosphere Reserves:
The LEADER-funded Cooperation Project has continued to facilitate collaboration in the following areas:
A new 18-month project called Mixed Farming: Histories and Futures starts in April 2019, co-funded by LEADER and the Ashley Family Foundation, and a new 12-month project called Dyfi Biosphere Outdoor Health starts in April 2019, funded by Welsh Government..
Three Town Councils in the Biosphere have declared Climate Emergencies, and the Biosphere Partnership is considering how to support the resulting action planning.
Contractors WSP with the BRO Partnership have completed the reports commissioned by Natural Resources Wales that will allow the Biosphere Partnership to submit a Periodic Review this year.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire
Isle of Man
The main achievement of WRB since the last UK MAB meeting was the launch of our 5-year Strategic Plan in Ullapool in February by the Convener of the Highland Council. Despite (or perhaps because of) the poor weather, we had a good/respectable turn-out from a geographical spread.
Our thematic working groups are making progress, particularly Tourism, Natural Heritage and Education, all of whom are developing partnerships with other organisations in our area. The main thrust of the SHAPE project is the developing a Destination Management Plan for Wester Ross. The Natural Heritage group is concentrating on woodlands and the Education group is building up a rapport with our 3 local high schools.
We continue our participation in developing the UNESCO National Trail in Scotland.
Financial support continues to be an issue as we get so near to obtaining funding and then our hopes are dashed. SNH have been very supportive and we have been pledged some money for next financial year so that we can maintain our Co-ordinator on a part-time basis – not ideal, but better than no Co-ordinator!
The UK National Committee for UNESCO’s Man & the Biosphere (MAB) Programme met at the Royal Ocean Yacht Club in Cowes, IoW, for their half-yearly meeting on 30 October 2018.
The following updates were received from the individual Biosphere Reserves:
Brighton & Lewes Downs
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire
Isle of Man
The UK MAB Committee gathered at Malahide Castle in Dublin on 8 January for our first meeting of 2018. We were generously hosted by colleagues from Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve, and on the day following the meeting, engaged in a very interesting planning session for the EuroMAB conference that will be held in Dublin in 2019.
At the main committee meeting, updates were received from each of the UK Biosphere Reserves:
Brighton and Lewes Downs (BLDBR)
BLDBR submitted a detailed funding application on ‘BioCultural Heritage Tourism’ to the EU Interreg Channel programme , working in partnership with North Devon BR (lead) and 2 French Biospheres.
A third phase of delivering our innovative environmental education programme ‘Our Water Matters’ to 300 primary school children in Newhaven and Peacehaven took place in the summer term, with funding from South East Water. We also sponsored a local youth ambassador to participate in the MAB Youth Forum meeting in September in Italy.
We have worked to support the capacity of the voluntary sector to collaborate on the care of urban greenspace through the establishment of the Brighton & Hove Green Spaces Forum the Green Havens network in Newhaven/Peacehaven.
We have invested significant resources in to the promotion of its new identity of ‘The Living Coast’ in 2017 through its website www.thelivingcoast.org.uk and use of social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (including pro bono support from a local digital agency). The website promotion includes an innovative interactive ‘Explore TLC’ map for people to discover what lies on our doorstep.
Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere
The two-year development project co-funded by LEADER and the local authorities has focussed on two priorities. The first is to engage more children and young people and the second is to help businesses explore how to use the Dyfi Biosphere brand. The appointed officer made some progress but left at the end of August and has not been replaced. Instead, contractors are being sought to carry out specific pieces of work.
One contract will re-engage education providers, strengthening practical links with schools and (probably) farmers. The development of the new curriculum in Wales presents excellent opportunities, as it will include a focus on community connection and on developing global citizens.
The second will develop the food and drink cluster of visitor-oriented businesses, improving and promoting local provenance and links to landscape.
Five delegates benefitted from attending the UNESCO MAB Youth Forum. Other international contacts included a visit by a member of the Education Group to the Isle of Man BR, hosted by the Farming and Wildlife Group, and a presentation by social enterprise Cletwr at the economies in Biospheres event organised by the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano Biosphere and OASIIS in October 2017.
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire
Despite some severe cutback in the core budget of the BR from the local authorities due to austerity measures, the BR has developed and is now implementing a range of projects and has recently engaged in the Defra Pioneers associated with the government’s forthcoming 25 Year Environment Plan.
Cutbacks have led to the reduction of 1.4 FTE in the permanent team to leave 1.6 FTE in place. The implementation of some of the projects has now led to the recruitment of 2.2 FTE largely as project management rolls, and more expected as other projects come on line.
The recent governance changes switch the emphasis from the BR team from being a mixed strategic body and implementation body to one of more coordination and intelligence and commissioning work through partners.
The governance structure of working groups appears to be working well in developing true partnership projects.
The main strategic work at the moment is associated with the Defra Pioneers. The landscape pioneer and the Marine pioneer we chosen to be applied in the BR due to the leading work already done in north Devon. These projects are designed to test the natural capital approach, improve decision making, use new tools and approaches, develop innovative finance, improve integration between authorities. The Pioneers are developing their plans now and have gone through exercises of ecosystem assessments and natural capital assessments to identify areas for investment.
WRB has made progress in promoting itself. We have a logo and produced our first leaflet. The certificate awarding ceremony in September was an informal but successful event. We have been meetings community groups to raise the WRB profile as well as with organisations to explore collaboration opportunities. We went to Edinburgh to exhibit at the high-level Arctic Circle Conference and also attended an informative NORD MAB meeting at the Moen Biosphere in Denmark. The NPA SHAPE project is making progress with preparations being made to host a partnership meeting in April.
2020 is to be the Year of Coasts and Water in Scotland, and WRB is working with other groups to enhance the West Coast as Scotland’s prime marine tourism destination as well as reduce the pressure on landward infrastructure (NC500). WRB have also joined a Marine Litter Working Group to tackle the increasing issue of marine litter.
We reached the second round of the HLF Great Places Scheme, managing to bring in 2 major project partners. Although not successful, we had positive feedback from the funders. Also the material is useful in producing our 5 year strategic plan.
The councils in north Devon are asking people for their views on the valued landscape around the Taw Torridge estaury. Please go to the consultation page:
The 4 year COBWEB (Citizen OBservatory WEB) project is developing an “observatory framework” that will make it easier for citizens to collect environmental data suitable for use in research, decision making and policy formation. The project is built around UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere is the first test area.
Darganfod Dyfi is a project which has improved and waymarked a series of footpaths and bridleways throughout the Biosphere. It is available free as a pack of walks leaflets, which can also be downloaded from http://www.biosfferdyfi.org.uk/en/cerdded
North Devon's Biosphere Reserve has gained funding from the Englands Catchment Restoration Fund to improve water quality and fish stocks in the Taw Catchment. The project was submitted by the North Devon Biosphere Partnership and is being led by Westcountry Rivers Trust.
The project is called the Taw River Improvement Proejct (TRIP). The £1.9M grant will be used to improve land management in the catchment through a wide partnership of land use advisers (North Devon Biosphere Service, West country Rivers Trust, FWAG, Devon Wildlife Trust,) and small capital grants over 3 years. This project is the perfect counterpart to the Nature Improvement Area on the Torridge Catchment. Phophates, riparian habitats and barriers to fish migration are the key failure reasons within the catchment. Interventions will include floodplain and buffer strip planting, farm waste water and nutrient management, removal of dams and weirs.
UK MAB News
News updates from members of the UK MAB Committee.