| Dec 13, 2007


Feature Article - December 13, 2007 Back toHome Feature Article - December 13, 2007 The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve: Gaining Momentum by Wilma KennyDominique Potvin brought greetings from UNESCO to the annual general meeting of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, (FABR) which was held in Sydenham this past Saturday.

First designated by the UN in 2002, the region was expanded this fall to include all of South Frontenac Township. It now roughly covers the area bounded by Brockville, Gananoque, Westport and Verona. Named for the granite "arch" connecting the Adirondack mountains to the Canadian Shield, it is an area where the junction of five eco-regions holds some of the highest biodiversity in Canada. Within the region are two provincial parks (Frontenac Park and Charleston Lake Park), a World Heritage Site (the Rideau Canal) and a federal park (Thousand Islands), as well as a number of smaller parks and recreation areas, towns, villages, farms and rural residents.

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Ms Potvin noted that while most biosphere regions in the world are government-managed programs, in Canada they are initiated and run by volunteers, without the support of government funding. The Biosphere Reserve designation confers no authority whatsoever. Originally created to encourage conservation and research, the intent of designating these regions has widened to include education and appropriate economic development, so that residents of the area can continue to live and thrive there, without compromising the natural features that make the area unique.

Don Ross, Executive Director of the FABR, described several “works in progress”. The Sustainable Tourism project has received funding from Transat, Central Frontenac Development Centre and Parks Canada, which will help to run a series of workshops early in 2008, addressing tourism development in the region. Sustainable tourism is based on the principle that the community should keep control of its tourism development, and that such development should connect with local businesses, provide local employment, and offer tourists attractive experiences that do not overwhelm or destroy the area they come to visit.

This connects in turn to a developing educational network involving parks, conservation authorities, museums and schools. Also, it leads to the possibility of building communication links between the considerable number of land and water trails existing within the region. The four biosphere reserves on Ontario have recently joined to apply for Trillium funding to help develop a community atlas, which could map both the physical and social landscape. Ross noted the interrelation of all these projects, emphasizing that a large part of his task is to help encourage the connections between separate but like-minded community groups and issues.

The meeting wound up with an excellent lunch of organic, mostly local foods supplied by the Mill Street Caf

The Frontenac Arch website carries a wealth of information and detail about our local biosphere region, including upcoming workshop programs as they become finalized.

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