About the project
What does ‘UNESCO Biosphere Status’ mean?
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) launched the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) in 1970 to find a way to deal with the pressure modern life was putting on the biosphere, the living planet. MAB began a ‘Biosphere Reserve’ project which identified areas that needed protecting and where research could be done; Beinn Eighe was given Biosphere Reserve status in 1976.
Why the discussion about Biosphere now?
Since 1995 Biosphere Reserve status has been evolving and the agenda for MAB has developed to potentially extend the original zone of the Beinn Eighe biosphere into 3 zones:
• Core Zone- The National Nature Reserve of Beinn Eighe, an area for conservation.
• Buffer Zone- A protective area around the core zone that allows activity such as education, training, tourism and recreation.
• Transition Zone- The area where the people of Wester Ross live and work. Economic and social activity.
Wester Ross has the opportunity to apply to UNESCO to extend the biosphere and create a transition zone around the core and buffer zone of the mountain. The transition zone is the areas where people live and work and the aim of the biosphere would be to support the people who live in the landscape to work towards a sustainable development model for living. Sustainable development was defined very well by the Brundtland Report , produced in 1987;
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The participation of local communities in unlocking the potential for development by achieving biosphere status is vital and UNESCO want to see local involvement and engagement in the process. There are no restrictions on human activity in the transition zone so being part of a biosphere would not cause problems in areas such as planning or crofting activities; the biosphere is about supporting the people who live and work in it to be part of the conservation of the natural and the human ecology of the landscape.
There are all kinds of biospheres all over the world with a myriad of activities taking place and at the moment the people of Wester Ross have an opportunity to decide if they want to be part of the UNESCO network of biospheres.
Where will the transition zone be?
We need to decide where geographically the transition zone is, for instance it can take in quite a large area and include coastal waters and we need the help of the local communities to do this. The boundaries of the transition zone can be quite flexible and are reviewed regularly by UNESCO so a community could remove itself or be added to the biosphere at a later date. Being in the transition zone doesn’t tie a business or an individual to the biosphere; you can be actively or passively involved it doesn’t have to impact your life. Wester Ross is not a set area on the map and we need to reach as many people as possible to be part of the consultation process and get involved.
How can I get involved?
Your development officer working on the Biosphere Project is keen to hear from you! My name is Lucy Robison and I croft at Badrallach, near Dundonnell, and I am very happy for anyone to get in touch to share information and discuss the project and what it could do for Wester Ross. We are trying to reach as many people as possible; individuals, businesses, groups, communities and anyone else who might have an interest and be able to help with the project.
• You might be able to suggest individuals or communities that would be interested.
• You might be able to help organise an event.
• You could get me along to your event or meet your group to chat to people about the biosphere and answer any questions.
Assist Social Capital CIC
phone: 0774 3300383