Beaver Hills Biosphere

The Beaver Hills was designated as a Biosphere on March 19, 2016 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This designation provides global recognition of the community’s commitment to conservation and sustainable development.

This video was produced from a partnership between the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association and the University of Saskatchewan, School of Environment and Sustainability funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

What is the biosphere?

The biosphere is the world in which we live and share with other living things and includes all the land, water and atmosphere that support life.

What is a biosphere reserve?

A Biosphere Reserve is an area designated by UNESCO that demonstrates excellence in the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development practices through people living and working in harmony with nature at a regional scale. If designated, the Beaver Hills would become internationally recognized as a member of a global network of over 600 Biosphere Reserves.

People involved with Biosphere Reserves work towards implementing the Reserve’s three main functions

  • Conservation: conserving genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes;
  • Development:fostering economic and human development which is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable; and
  • Logistic support (capacity building): providing support for applied research, monitoring, education, and information exchange.

In order to carry out these three functions each Biosphere Reserve contains three elements

  • Core protected areas: these legislatively protected areas include provincial and national parks that conserve biodiversity and provide research monitoring opportunities in minimally disturbed ecosystems;
  • Buffer zones: usually surround or adjoin the core protected areas and emphasize conservation in connection with cooperative activities that are compatible with sound ecological practices;
  • Transition area (area of cooperation): generally comprise the largest proportion of a Biosphere Reserve and consists of the lived-in and working landscape where sustainable economic and human development is demonstrated and practised through the involvement and collaboration of local communities.

Although the core areas of Biosphere Reserves are legislatively defined, the boundaries of the remaining two zones are conceptual and are based on local needs and expectations. Moreover, the designation of an area as a Biosphere Reserve does not intrude on property rights, Aboriginal Rights, jurisdictional and administrative authorities, or the responsibilities of elected bodies. As a result Biosphere Reserves are often referred to as Biosphere Areas or Biosphere Regions.

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