Collections of stories and anecdotes of ATVing in Canada by Andrew Ryeland of 



Georgian Bay Country now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
OTTAWA, OCTOBER 29, 2004 – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated the Georgian Bay Littoral, Ontario, as a Biosphere Reserve.
The Georgian Bay Littoral is one of the 19 sites in 15 countries that have been added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. Each area is intended to exemplify ways of sustaining local economies and resource use while also conserving the biological diversity found in the different kinds of ecosystems.
The GBA Foundation and the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve Inc. are the proponents of this biosphere reserve. While the nomination was created and funded by the GBA Foundation, it is now obvious that the individual credibility of the GBBR Inc. board members has broadened the base of support for the nomination across the biosphere reserve area. This in turn made it easier for the government representatives to give their full support to the nomination, and to the work of the biosphere reserve.
The goals of the GBA Foundation are to educate residents of the Georgian Bay area and the public on issues of environmental protection, conservation, safety and preservation of the water and natural features in the Georgian Bay area, and to conduct and encourage research into water and land quality matters.
Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve Inc., a not-for-profit body established by the GBA Foundation in 1998, is to coordinate the future activities of this biosphere reserve. The corporation has no regulatory powers; rather it provides a forum leading to consensus. The new directors and officers of this corporation include three individuals from the aboriginal communities, three permanent residents from the area, and two each from the boating and cottage communities. The nomination was also endorsed by the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, Parks Canada, and local authorities including the Town of Parry Sound and townships of The Archipelago, Georgian Bay, Carling, McDougall and Seguin.
A cooperation plan is being developed to serve as a basis for the biosphere reserve. The board is currently identifying the key priorities for the next few years under the three headings of sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, and capacity building. Implementation will be through existing institutional arrangements, jurisdictions, and policies, which remain unchanged following designation.
Located within the Great Lakes Basin, Georgian Bay is sufficiently large and unique to merit being called ‘the sixth Great Lake.’ The biosphere reserve is a 347,000 ha area compromised of eastern Georgian Bay, which represents one of the largest freshwater archipelagos in the world and includes extensive shoreline, some open water and adjacent mainland.
Core protected areas of this biosphere reserve consisting of the Georgian Bay Islands National Park and five provincial parks serve to support and protect the high level of biodiversity and the hundreds of animal and plant species found in the area that are at risk in Ontario or Canada. Apart from its conservation objectives, this biosphere reserve will also strive to foster economic and human development which is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable. For example, because of its highly attractive nature for cottagers and visitors from nearby-by Toronto, one of the objectives of this biosphere reserve is to focus on developing ‘smart-growth’ eco-tourism which maintains the environmental quality of the area while providing effective economic activities for local communities and residents. A goal of this biosphere reserve is to provide a focus for the common values of sustainability and to assist in the coordination and fulfillment of the multiple programs already taking place in the area.
Finally, GBLBR Inc. will promote and encourage environmental education, further research, and the monitoring of traditional and contemporary use of resources, leading, for example, to the restoration of the sports fishery and excellent forest management.
The Georgian Bay Littoral Biosphere Reserve joins the twelve existing biosphere reserves in Canada: Mount Arrowsmith (British Columbia), Clayoquot Sound (British Columbia), Waterton (Alberta), Riding Mountain (Manitoba), Niagara Escarpment (Ontario), Long Point (Ontario), Charlevoix (Quebec), Lac St. Pierre (Québec) Mont St. Hilaire (Quebec), and Redberry Lake (Saskatchewan), and Southwest Nova (Nova Scotia), Thousand Islands – Frontenac Arch (Ontario). The World Network of Biosphere Reserves now consists of 459 sites in 97 countries.
The new site was approved by the Bureau of the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme at its meeting on October 25-29 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association, a non-profit association, provides support and networking relationships that help develop and maintain these biosphere reserves in Canada. The Canadian National Committee of MAB ensured that this proposal met all criteria for a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.