Conference 2003

Conference 2003
Greening the City:
Bringing Biodiversity Back
into the Urban Environment


Urban Bioregional Planning for Working Landscapes: Biosphere Reserves Re-visited

Kate Matysek (Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)

Australia became a signatory to the UNESCO / MAB Biosphere Reserve Program in 1977 and twelve Biosphere Reserve sites were nominated over the following five years. Very little development of the Program followed. Limited success can be attributed to a number of factors including preoccupation by relevant government authorities with protection through the National Park and World Heritage Area designations.

The objective of this paper is to compare existing (old) Australian Biosphere Reserves to the urban and peri-urban (new) Biosphere Reserves. An examination of the theoretical framework of which Biosphere Reserves are a part provides a context to further discussion. The old and new approaches to Biosphere Reserves in Australia are discussed and the principle factor in their success is highlighted. Application of the Biosphere Reserve concept in an urban and peri-urban bioregion is illustrated through a case study of the Mornington Peninsula - Western Port Urban Biosphere Reserve.

This paper argues that two very different approaches are adopted for Biosphere Reserves in Australia. Old designations have floundered in the absence of government support due to little understanding or concern for the concept, or perception of duplicate titles in the case of National Parks or World Heritage status. In contrast, the urban and peri-urban Biosphere Reserve is a community driven initiative, derived at a bioregional level for the long-term fulfilment of mutual directives regarding environmental and social community goals.

The Biosphere Reserve Program provides a framework for achievement of catchment management objectives and incremental conservation practices in working landscapes. The success of new Biosphere Reserves depends strongly upon community drivers and regional visions; Commonwealth dissemination of the Biosphere Reserve Program; and State and Local Government support and prioritisation for integrative local conservation.

Conference sponsored by:

British Council NZ
The Community Trust
Landcare Research

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