This article, originally posted by The Yarmouth County Vanguard on July 22, 2016, was written by Eric Bourque. It is re-produced below, with permission from the Vanguard Newsroom.
YARMOUTH — Cliff Drysdale used a term from auto racing to describe the significance of the moment.
The chairman of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association was in Yarmouth for the official opening of a science and cultural interpretive centre in the town’s Killam Building on Water Street.
“I like to think of it as the green flag for the start of a very exciting project,” he said moments after the July 20 ceremony.
The project’s roots actually go back 15 years. In 2001, western Nova Scotia – the five-county region of Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne and Queens – was identified as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, a globally recognized status for places that have important core protected areas. In southwestern Nova Scotia, these include the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and Kejimkujik National Park.
More than just an environmental initiative, however, Drysdale says the project will, among other things, highlight the region’s cultural heritage.
Governments and the private sector will be approached to help develop the interpretive centre as a teaching/learning facility for students.
“We’ve been recognized globally as a special area,” Drysdale said. “Now we have to celebrate it and put in place programming to make the public aware and really advance our communities and accept that leadership role and global context.”
Drysdale, a Middleton resident who worked at Kejimkujik as park ecologist and science coordinator for 30 years, has been involved in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve project from the start in 2001. He has travelled extensively and, through his travels, he says he has developed a greater appreciation for what this region has to offer.
“Southwestern Nova Scotia is indeed a special place,” he said. “People work together. Communities work together. We manage our resources sustainably. There are always challenges, but we take them on in a systematic way. That needs to be celebrated and we need to educate our students and our citizens about it and, of course, people that visit.”
Among those who spoke during the ceremony in Yarmouth was Pam Mood, the Yarmouth mayor.
“The town was thrilled to not only donate the use of this building,” she said, “but I think we’re even more thrilled to see the growth of what’s happening here, so we wish you all the best and we’re excited.”