Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday MAB

2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program. Among planned activities is a web-based forum, in which various dimensions and activities of MAB will be addressed. The idea is to encourage contributions on what has been learned over the last four decades – what has worked and what has not worked, and why.

The MAB Program was conceived, planned and launched some four decades ago. It is science-based, with multiple stakeholders and constituencies. It combines research, education and training, demonstration and the synthesis of information for different audiences. It involves cooperation at nested scales – local, sub-national, national, regional and global. It seeks to combine "philosophical visions" and innovative concepts with collaborative problem-solving work in selected parts of the biosphere where people live and work. It is firmly based on national priorities and efforts.

The overall objective is to reconcile the conservation of biological diversity with socio-economic needs and cultural integrity – in short, sustainable development. Today, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) includes 563 biosphere reserves in 110 countries worldwide.

The United States was an early and active member of MAB and entered some 50 locations in the worldwide network of biosphere reserves. Scientists working in those reserves were active in exchanging information with their colleagues working in reserves in other countries and in building the scientific capacity of the network. When the United States withdrew from UNESCO, for a number of years the Congress appropriated funds to the State Department to continue U.S. scientific cooperation with MAB. However, in later years not only were those contributions no longer provided, but the U.S. National Committee for MAB was disbanded and the State Department stopped participating in MAB activities. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO has recommended that the United States return to full involvement in MAB, and it is hoped that the Congress will soon support that reengagement.

One of the U.S. Biosphere Reserves

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