Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Program in Australia: Constraints and Opportunities for Localized Sustainable Development

Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Program in Australia: Constraints and Opportunities for Localized Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

Since their creation under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program in 1976, biosphere reserves have provided an international framework for linking protected areas with their associated working landscapes. In Australia, twelve biosphere reserves were added to the World Network between 1977 and 1982. That initial flurry of activity has been followed by twenty-five years of limited interest and development in biosphere reserves in this country, although evidence suggests that new energies are being directed to it. After sketching the origins of the biosphere reserve concept and its central tenets, we explore those environmental, cultural and institutional factors that may be promoting renewed interest in the program. We then review the initial implementation and current status of the Australian Biosphere Reserve Program. Factors supporting the limited success that exists in the program in Australia are highlighted, and the new form of biosphere reserve is illustrated with reference to Australia's recent and only urban biosphere reserve, at the Mornington Peninsula, in the state of Victoria. We speculate that prospects for biosphere reserves in Australia are brighter because of the provision for biosphere reserves under the Commonwealth of Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (DEH 1999), the conceptual relevance of the biosphere reserve to bioregional and catchment management more generally and the continued success of existing model biosphere reserves.

Avec leur creation en 1976 par I'Organisation des Nations Unies pour I'education, la science et la culture (UNESCO) et le Programme I'Homme et la Biosphere (MAB), les reserves de biosphere ont permis de mettre en place un cadre international pour etablir un lien entre les zones protegees et les paysages humanisds auxquels elles sont associees. En Australie, douze reserves de biosphere se sont ajoutees au Reseau mondial entre 1977 et 1982. Suite d cette forte poussee des activites au tout debut, un faible d'interet a ete accorde aux reserves de biosphere qui ont peu evolue dans ce pays au cours des vingt-cinq annees qui ont suivi. Pourtant, selon les dernieres informations obtenues, elles connaissent un regain de vigueur. Nous presentons d'abord un apercu du concept de la reserve de biosphere et des grands principes qui le sous-tendent et etudions les facteurs environnementaux, culturels et institutionnels influants qui suscitent un nouvel interet pour le Programme. Par la suite, nous evaluons la mise en oeuvre initiale et I'etat actuel du Programme de I'Australie sur les reserves de biosphere. Les facteurs qui soutiennent la reussite mitigee du Programme de I'Australie sont identifies et la nouvelle forme de rgserve de la biosphdre est illustree par une prdsentation de la seule reserve de biosphere urbaine en Australie, situee sur la pdninsule Mornington dans I'etat de Victoria. Nous emettons I'hypothese que I'avenir des rdserves de biosphere en Australie est plus brillant grace d: la disposition en matiere de rdserves de biosphdre dans la Loi australienne de 1999 sur la protection de renvironnement et la conservation de la biodiversite; de facon plus generale, la pertinence conceptuelle de la rdserve de biosphdre pour la gestion bioregionale et hydrographique; et la reussite soutenue des rdserves de biosphdre-type existantes.

Introduction

Sustainable development in action requires areas designed and managed to represent and protect biodiversity, including ecological processes, communities, species and gene pools, as they are central to the maintenance of ecosystem function and landscape integrity at a bioregional scale. When applied successfully, three primary functions of all biosphere reserves direct a holistic philosophy towards landscape scale human/environment interactions. These functions are biodiversity conservation, regional development and scientific research/monitoring, which are integrated via interdisciplinary approaches to the management of 'reserves'. …

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