Building Connections in the Canadian Biosphere Network

In November 2018, Beaver Hills Biosphere (BHB) Executive Director, Brian Ilnicki, travelled to British Columbia to participate in the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association (CBRA) annual Fall Gathering and visit a neighbouring biosphere. Staying connected to other Canadian biospheres is important in fostering a strong and engaged network, and the BHB is looking to elevate its relationship with other biospheres across the country.

The Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA) hosted their 2018 Fall Gathering within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region in the territories of Kwalikum and Snaw-naw-as First Nations. The 42 attendees included representatives from each of the 18 Canadian biosphere reserves, members of CBRA's Indigenous circle, members of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Committee and Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) staff.

The focus of the event was to develop a collective and strategic vision for the national UNESCO network of biosphere reserves. During the three-day gathering, participants worked together through dialogue and exercises to envision and plan collectively.

“The BHB is dedicated to ensuring alignment with both CBRA’s and UNESCO’s vision for biosphere reserves,” explains Brian. “And as one of only two UNESCO sites in Alberta, it was important for the Beaver Hills Biosphere to have representation at this event.”

Sharing and collaboration were prominent themes during the event, and participant discussions focused on how biosphere reserves across Canada recognize the importance of an engaged and inter-connected network across the country. In the subsequent Fall 2018 Network Meeting Summary, CBRA reinforced this, stating that the biosphere community values relationships and recognizes how important being interconnected is to the work and commitment of the biospheres.

Guided by the wisdom shared at the event, CBRA will be moving forward with the development of a strategic plan that outlines a path forward for Canadian biosphere reserves. This document will help guide and inform biosphere reserves’ efforts across the country, including the BHB’s own.

“The event really highlighted the deep value of relationship building and story-telling that all biospheres in Canada hold dear,” adds Brian. “The BHB looks forward to growing our relationship with this network and forging new connections with fellow biospheres in Canada.”

Learn more about the CBRA Fall Gathering and check out some photos of the event courtesy the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.