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Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve Annual Meeting Discusses Bio-Regionalism And Sustainability

Map of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve
Map of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve

There are more than 700 biospheres across the globe, and one of the largest spans part of northern New York and Northern Vermont. The third annual meeting of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve was held on the University of Vermont Campus on Friday. As WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, it brought together scientists, advocates and students from across the region and the globe.
The Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve, which comprises the Lake Champlain basin and the Adirondacks, is one of the largest of the 28 in the U.S and the fourth-largest of UNESCO’s 701 biospheres across the globe.

As the meeting began at UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, National Park Service Man & the Biosphere Program Coordinator Cliff McCreedy explained what a biosphere reserve is.  “It offers a place where livelihoods are supported and people are thriving together with nature in sustainable and equitable ways.”

Paul Smith’s College Professor Kelly Cerialo, co-chair of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve Steering Committee, says climate change is driving most of their priorities.   “What we’re realizing now is that the partnerships that we develop to support the efforts against climate change are really what’s going to matter in the coming years.  And it’s exciting because the three institutions behind this, you know in terms of academics, it’s SUNY ESF, Paul Smith’s College and then also the University of Vermont. So with a brain trust like that I think we’re well positioned to address these issues. And really focusing on the idea of bio-regionalism so looking at these pretty complex global issues and realizing that we have ability in all of these different communities to band together to address this and again specifically around climate change.”
The nearest biosphere reserve is the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. Its co-chair Eric Wang describes the formation.  “It’s an extension of what’s called the Canadian Shield, which is a huge mass of granite that exists north of where we are. And that area of granite sort of narrows down to piece called The Arch, which cuts across the river (St. Lawrence River) and through the Thousand Islands and then joins up with the same geological formation that extends into the Adirondacks.”

Frontenac Director Gary Clarke is also vice-chair of the Canadian Biospheres Association. He says all biospheres work under the same policy directive based on the needs of the region.  He would like to forge a stronger partnership with the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere.  “There’s some real similarities.  We both have heavy dependence on tourism and agriculture I would say as regions. And we’re physically linked by this Frontenac axis that runs north from Adirondack Park to Algonquin Park in Canada. So the two great parks of eastern North America are actually linked and we’re both located on that linkage.”

Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve co-chair Brian Houseal envisions a web of biospheres.  “This biosphere is within the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed. So we’re envisioning a network of biospheres across that great watershed and there are 12 on both the U.S. and Canadian side of that land area. So we have already had a couple consultative meetings about how our scientific stations can serve as sentinels to monitor what’s going on with climate change.”

In January students from Paul Smith’s College will travel to three biosphere reserves in South Africa to study sustainable development practices.