Global Adaptation Laboratories Protected Areas Biosphere Reserves and Smithsonian Biodiversity Sites

Knowing the future climate scenarios and increasing forest vulnerabilities, one of the key questions simply stated is how to we get from here to there? Convergence of major global efforts, such as Climate Change, Protected Areas (IUCN), World

Biosphere Reserves (UNESCO), Smithsonian Biodiversity Sites and others (e.g. ILTER sites and Model Forests) may provide some answers. The establishment of Smithsonian Forest Monitoring sites (SI/MAB), monitored by community groups using the same protocols and standards worldwide (Dallmeier, 1992), is particularly unique and noteworthy. For example, using these global protocols for forest biodiversity monitoring, there are now more than 80 SI/MAB sites in Canada located across climate, chemical and ecological gradients (MacIver, 1998). This also included the need for geo-spatial analysis based on Integrated Mapping Assessments (MacIver and Auld, 2000) and the establishment of Climate Change Forest Experimental Sites (e.g. in the City of Toronto).

With more than 400 Biosphere Reserves worldwide, each Biosphere Reserve has a conservation function, a development function and a logistic function. In this human-nature environment of conservation and development, the Biosphere Reserves consist of a core area, a buffer zone and a transition zone, in which development, human activities, agricultural and other uses are studied in relation to the core conservation area. This core area has been legally established, such as parks, and given long-term protection to the landscape, ecosystem and species it contains. In other words, this human-nature dimension of Biosphere Reserves is particularly noteworthy and unique since the management is local community driven along with society, as a whole (UNESCO, 2002).

Let us once more return to this third "outrage" on humanity, namely climate change, and recognize that this will be the greatest challenge facing the long-term sustainability of protected Areas and Biosphere Reserves, and the conservation of forests contained within. In 1995, the International Conference on Biosphere Reserves, held in Seville (Spain), confirmed that Biosphere Reserves offer such experimental sites, worldwide. From an adaptation viewpoint, the protected Areas, Biosphere Reserves and the Smithsonian Sites are well situated to become the Global Monitoring Network, linking together the human dimensions of development and natural conservation within an integrated abiotic, biotic and socioeconomic framework.

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