Spill the biosphere secret, association says

This article, originally posted by The Yarmouth County Vanguard on September 17, 2013, was written by Carla Allen.  It is re-produced below, with permission from the Managing Editor Fred Hatfield.


Cliff Drysdale promoting SW Nova Biosphere. Photo credit: Carla Allen
Cliff Drysdale promoting SW Nova Biosphere. Photo credit: Carla Allen


The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve needs to be more than just a designated area on a map, says Cliff Drysdale, chairman of the association promoting the reserve.

It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the province, but the organization in charge of it wants to change this.

The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve (SNBR) is one of the largest of 16 UNESCO biosphere reserves in Canada. It was officially designated in 2001 by the United Nations.

It covers an area of 13,770 square kilometres, with 100,000 people residing within its bounds. The area includes Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne and Queens counties, Kejimkujik National Park and historic Site, and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area.

Cliff Drysdale, chairman of the association promoting the reserve, made a presentation to the Municipality of Yarmouth on Sept. 11.

“The reserve holds a lot of potential for our region. From a tourism promotion point of view and from an education and scientific research perspective,” he said.

Drysdale stressed the importance of managing these natural resources in a sustainable way.

One of the programs recently completed by the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association (and partners) is the Video Vignette series. The 10 video vignettes, featuring Champions of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, were completed in November 2012. The vignettes have become part of the Nova Scotia Tourism Association marketing activities for the region.

“They advertise the SNBR as a destination area. We are not a doormat for Cape Breton or P.E.I. We want people to stay in this region and we think there are enough attractions here to cause people to stay,” said Drysdale.

The video vignettes are also being incorporated in a smartphone map app project.

“The use of these apps is a growing trend among tourists,” said Drysdale.

Phase one of the “map app,” the website platform, has been completed, with the collaboration of the Atlantic Geomatic Research Group (AGRG) of the Nova Scotia Community College (Middleton Campus).

The app will facilitate mobile visitor access to multi-theme digital information about towns, attractions and services throughout the region.

Phase 2 of the map app, which is under construction, will provide a downloadable application with an icon to tap for menu choices. Funding in the amount of $10,000 to $12,000 is required to complete the project by next spring.

Drysdale encouraged municipal council to use its influence to have signs put up identifying Yarmouth County as part of the UNESCO biosphere reserve.

“It’s absolutely critical,” he said.

The association has participated in initiatives to strengthen science, including establishment of the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute Cooperative, publication of studies on the resource management challenges of climate change, forestry and conservation of biodiversity.

Most recently it has worked with local businesses and communities to address the challenges arising from the Bowater Mill closure and its impact on forestry workers and resource management strategy throughout the region.

The SNBRA governing board and advisory committees are composed of members from governments, municipal councils, Mi’kmaq and Acadian communities, scientists, educators, resource management and tourism specialists.

For more information about the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve visit the website: www.swnovabiosphere.ca.