The Isle of Wight UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is a huge designation 

COVERING MOST OF THE SOLENT. THIS MEANS THAT IT IS ALSO THE ISLAND’S GIFT TO HAMPSHIRE, PORTSMOUTH, THE NEW FOREST AND THE SOLENT LEP.

IT COVERS 915 KM²

380 KM² IS TERRESTRIAL

535 KM² IS MARINE

LIKE ALL OTHER UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVES, THE ISLE OF WIGHT UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is

MADE UP OF 3 COMPONENT PARTS:

CORE ZONES (YELLOW)

BUFFER ZONES (GREEN)

TRANSITION ZONES (WHITE)

The Core areas are the highest levels of environmental protection, where restrictions on human activity are greatest. On the Island these comprise the inshore marine protected areas, coastal and estuarine designations and inland European sites and SSSIs.

The Buffer zones help to protect the core areas and are characterised by a less direct constraint on human interaction with the natural environment. Here these are the wider Solent and South Wight marine protected areas and the AONB and Heritage Coast.

The Transition zones incorporate all of the main centres of human population and infrastructure as well as more intensively farmed rural areas.

The interplay between these constituent parts, and the search for new and better ways to create sustainable and positive futures for the communities of people and wildlife that inhabit and cross between them, is the heart of the Biosphere project.

THE ISLE OF WIGHT BIOSPHERE DESIGNATION WAS AWARDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL CO ORDINATING COUNCIL OF UNESCO’S MAN AND THE BIOSPHERE PROGRAMME (MAB ICC) IN PARIS ON JUNE 19th 2019.

To quote UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azoulay:

“Each UNESCO biosphere reserve is an open sky laboratory for sustainable development, for concrete and lasting solutions, for innovation and good practices. They seal a new alliance between the world of science and youth, between humans and the environment.”

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture.

This means that the Biosphere designation directly connects the Island to the work of the United Nations and most especially to the delivery of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

• The Isle of Wight joins a network of 714 reserves covering 129 countries:

• 85 in 31 countries in Africa

• 33 in 12 countries in the Arab States

• 157 in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific

• 302 in 38 countries in Europe and North America

• 130 in 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are 7 in the UK: the River Dyfi in Wales, Wester Ross and Galloway in Scotland, the Isle of Man, and North Devon, Brighton and Lewes Downs, and the Isle of Wight in England.

FIND OUT MORE ABOOUT UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals.

ALL BIOSPHERE RESERVES SHARE 3 ESSENTIAL AND INTEGRATED FEATURES:

• A HIGH LEVEL OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

• A HIGH LEVEL OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY

• AN INSTITUTIONAL, REGULATORY AND POLITICAL FRAMEWORK THAT RECOGNISES THESE

HERE ARE SOME HEADLINE ISLAND EXAMPLES:

• 0ver 75% land and coast covered by landscape and ecological protections.

• 12,000 existing species recorded and a thousand more from Island fossils (100 million years of biodiversity).

• Global importance for English endemic species (Early Gentian), international significance for winter waterbird populations, unique ‘famous four’ woodland mammal community (Dormouse, Red Squirrel, Barbastelle and Bechstein’s bats).

• An IUCN category 5 cultural landscape (AONB) covering half the island, comprising 11 distinct character areas.

• An IW historic landscape characterisation in 13 distinct areas.

• 2000 protected historic cultural assets.

• Exceptional accessible human ‘time depth’ reflected in wealth of historical landscape features such as prehistoric burial mounds, medieval deer parks, Victorian country houses and parklands.

• Almost double the regional and national rate of employment in the creative industries.

• Arts, culture and heritage in the top 50% contributors to IW economy by GVA per job (above health care, wholesale retail and accommodation).

THE BIOSPHERE DESIGNATION IS NOT THE END OF A PROJECT, IT IS THE STARTINGPOINT. THE ISLE OF WIGHT COUNCIL’S APPLICATION TO UNESCO WAS A STATEMENT OF INTENT.

The Island has met the entry requirements of the World Biosphere Network club

because…

• It has globally significant resources of cultural and biological diversity.

• It intends putting these resources to work to improve the lives of the people who live and work here.

The Island has therefore effectively committed to a Biosphere

Manifesto, promising

that it will…

• Identify, understand, protect and invest in the island’s natural and cultural assets.

• Actively use this ‘foundation capital’ to shape a better, healthier, more resilient and more sustainable Island life.

• Encourage and support the broadest possible participation in this work by freely sharing accessible information, news, ideas and opportunities, allowing anyone and everyone to join in.

BIOSPHERE PRINCIPLES, AND A WAY OF THINKING AND WORKING THAT PRACTICALLY ENGAGES WITH THEM, CAN BE S UMMARISED IN 3 WORDS…
PEOPLE 2. WILDLIFE 3. PLACE

• People given access not only to essential services but to opportunities, individually and with others, to participate in shaping, for the better, the life of the neighbourhood and community which they share.

• Wildlife and its habitat respected, protected, explained and incorporated into the decisions we make about change. The possibility of wildlife encounter and an experience of the natural world treated as an everyday right.

• Places mined for their cultural content, their local distinctiveness, the sense of place that is in their built and natural form and the imprint of human ingenuity, enterprise, creativity and collaboration, old and new.

We can express the same ideas with another three words:

1. SOCIAL CAPITAL 2. NATURAL CAPITAL 3. CULTURAL CAPITAL

And we can introduce more complex ideas from the same starting point:

1. ECOLOGICAL HEALTH remembering that humans are biological organisms who, however; sophisticated we may thing we are, still rely on the basics of a functioning ecosystem to be well.

2. BIOTIC INTEGRITY understanding the lifecycle requirements of species and their populations, protecting, creating and connecting these components in the places we build, manage and maintain.

3. CULTURAL WELLBEING growing vitality in the places where people live and work by making it easy to participate in how that place looks, feels, functions and evolves and in how it is presented to the rest of the world.

Moving from a position where planning applications are approved because they’re not quite bad enough to refuse, to one where applications are good enough to meet the commitment of Biosphere manifesto. The Biosphere designation does not need new legal protections or statutory vetoes to achieve this (in fact it was awarded precisely because there are already such things in place), it delivers positive change by bringing together existing ecological, landscape, heritage and public health controls and giving them new focus and direction. The Island Plan provides the essential opportunity to make this happen.

• Marketing the Island using its full store of authentic cultural and environmental content, generating new, fresh and appealing material year on year whilst still building a coherent, cumulative narrative that is as useful to local programmes and projects as it is to tourism promotion . This works because both the background data and the designed materials can be important and useful shared information resources.

• Embedding new business practice here, positioning the Island as a regional, national and international focus for green investment by using the Biosphere principles as economic shorthand for drivers of change that can otherwise seem overwhelming, the Environment Bill, the Dasgupta Review, the Global Risks Report , and the UN SDGs. These concepts are evolving rapidly, bringing business, government and civil society together in a shared endeavour demonstrated in initiatives such as the Net Positive Project https://www.netpositiveproject.org/

In this section:

It is a Huge Designation

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