You are receiving this newsletter because you live in or near a World Biosphere Site, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere to be precise.
Did you know scientific studies show regular contact and physical activity in natural environments such as the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere result in health benefits such as reduced negative physical symptoms including muscular pain and tension, and negative emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
What is a Biosphere? Great question!
A United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere is a term given to an area that meets certain sustainable development, biodiversity, and natural resource criteria. The goal of a UNESCO Biosphere is to promote biodiversity and conservation and help ensure the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of a region. The aim is to encourage better linkages between nature and human well-being. Biospheres, through their mandates, promote practical ways to conserve biological diversity, promote sustainable communities, encourage research and education, and preserve cultural heritage. Biospheres contain protected areas already designated by the federal, provincial, or local governments, but they have more areas that include communities. The designation is a recognition from UNESCO, not a legal entity.
What is the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere?
In 1990, the Niagara Escarpment became a UNESCO designated Biosphere. The Niagara Escarpment is an exposed rocky ridge in North America that extends more than 1,050 km from southeastern Wisconsin, north through Manitoulin Island, south down the Bruce (Saugeen)Peninsula, east across the Niagara Peninsula, and then running east below Lake Ontario in New York State. It is a result of geological processes that began more than 400 million years ago. The geological patterns of the Niagara Escarpment and layering of rock types has created the stunning outcrops and cliff overhangs for which the escarpment is famous. With thousands of plant and animal species (over 2,500), the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere supports a greater number of both plant and animal species than any other ecosystem in Canada, making the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere one of the most ecologically diverse ecosystems in North America. In Ontario, the Biosphere goes from the Niagara region up to Tobermory in the Bruce (Saugeen) Peninsula. It contains, for example, the Bruce Trail, which is managed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
What can the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere do for me?
The UNESCO Biosphere offers several benefits:
• Improved health and wellness;
• Increased conservation and ecosystem services such as cleaner air and water;
• Increased motivation for the protection and maintenance of biodiversity;
• Increased tourism and ecotourism opportunities;
• Consumption opportunities, including hunting and fishing;
• Flood control and climate change mitigation;
• Poverty alleviation through related employment;
• Promotes education, and research collaboration,
• Education programming opportunities;
• Boosts community morale and pride;
• Marketing and promotional opportunities;
• Increased funding opportunities.
Receiving a UNESCO Biosphere designation is an important accomplishment, however; designation requires long-term management commitments among site managers, local communities, and government.
What can I do for the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere?
In 2022, the UNESCO Biosphere management transitioned from the Niagara Escarpment Commission to a grassroots, community level co-governance organization. The Niagara Escarpment Commission served as the Biosphere site administrator since its designation in 1990.This was no longer acceptable for the UNESCO designation. Therefore, its responsibility was transferred to this new co-governance entity known as the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network (NEBN). In March 2022, the NEBN was officially launched and incorporated under provincial regulations.
The NEBN is a network of networks where everyone can be involved. If you are interested, you can get involved in the work of the NEBN and become partner in any network. You can contribute to any activities that are protecting biodiversity, improving the health and sustainability of your community, exploring with researchers diverse aspects of the biosphere, or educate children in your community.
About the NEBN
The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network is a partnership of Indigenous and non-Indigenouspeoples, wherein Indigenous knowledge systems and western science are both seen as equal and respected. Scientific and traditional knowledge will be embraced through the concept of ethical space and two-eyed seeing as a means of bridging western science and Indigenous knowledge. Two-eyed seeing promotes using one eye to see the strengths of Indigenous knowledge while using the other eye to see the strengths of scientific knowledge, and then use both eyes together when fully “seeing” the world around us.
The ultimate goal of the NEBN is to create cross-cultural collaboration to implement restorative actions to improve ecological integrity, biodiversity, sustainability, and address climate change for the benefit of future generations.
— Jocelyn Baker