Status Report Submitted to CCMAB

Status Report Submitted to CCMAB

On November 16th, our Working Group submitted a "Status Report" to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for review and comment from the Man and the Biosphere Committee who are meeting November 22nd, 23rd.  We look forward to comments, questions and general feedback from the committee as to the viability of our proposal for Howe Sound.  This is a first step towards completion of the nomination document  we are working on for submission by end of January.

Please review the report to understand more about this initiative and what is involved.

Photo credit to Donna McMahon


Howe Sound Conservationist's Forum

Howe Sound Conservationist's Forum

Nestled in the woods along the Cheakamus River, The Cheakamus Centre in Brackendale achieves its mission "To create a hub of innovative, authentic educational experiences in nature that inspire all learners to make informed, sustainable decisions through a deeper understanding and connection to the natural world."  This was an ideal location for a meeting of Howe Sound Conservationists on October 3rd.

Representatives from 11 conservation organizations from around Howe Sound came together on our invitation to learn more about our initiative and to share thoughts on the future of conservation work.  A long list of issues was raised that will be explored further as we help to build capacity to support restoration, education and research projects in the years ahead.

Issues such as staying relevant, understand what monitoring is taking place, attracting and engaging new members and funders, effective communications, building and maintaining trust,  ongoing historical context, building more relationship with Squamish Nation, prioritizing projects, influencing policy making and being adaptable were some of the issues that will be further explored.

Represented at the meeting was Squamish River Watershed Society, the Squamish Nation Environmental Manager, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, Bowen Island Conservancy, Gambier Island Conservancy, Squamish Environmental Network, Keats Island Conservancy, Coastal Ocean Research Institute, Marine Life Sanctuaries Society, Seagrass Conservation Working Group and the Squamish Streamkeepers.   For more information contact

September Update

The Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society (HSBRI) is now incorporated under the Societies Act of BC.   While not a registered charity that can issue receipts for tax purposes, our organization welcomes donations to help fund our expenses directly related to this important initiative.

Support for Howe Sound to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere Region continues to grow.   Each of the Sound's regional districts: Metro Vancouver, Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast, plus each of the local governments, have now expressed their support in principle through resolutions.  

This fall we anticipate committee members of the Canadian Commission of Man and the Biosphere (CCMAB) to visit the region.  Regular updates are being provided to the Commission and we look forward to increased interaction with CCMAB on the progress towards our nomination. 

In October, representatives of conservation groups are meeting to discuss the future role and governance of a Biosphere Region organization.  Recognizing the challenges that non-profit organizations face today, HSBRI will work with other key stakeholders in the creation of an effective governance structure, one that will facilitate conservation efforts sustainable into the future.

For regular updates and upcoming events, please follow us on Facebook.




Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why do you call this a proposal for UNESCO Biosphere Region and not Reserve?

A. We have been assured by UNESCO Paris and the Canadian Commission of Man (CCMAB) and the Biosphere that our initiative can be referred to as “Region”. We prefer the term “Region” to the term to “Reserve” because of the negative historic connotation of reserves in Canada, especially for First Nations peoples. 

Q. How do you determine the boundaries and who makes the final decision?

A. The Draft boundary follows the watershed boundary.  It also follow closely the Squamish Nation traditional territory boundary and the extent of the Howe Sound Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework, currently being undertaken the by the provincial government.  We believe HSBRI has the capacity to nominate, designate an manage a Biosphere Region area this size. The final decision to use the boundary we have chosen will be made by UNESCO and will depend on support for the application.

Q. What is the process for achieving the designation?

A. It is a comprehensive process which entail a number of steps. It starts will gaining support for the concept from all sectors in the region, especially government. It entails completing an extensive nomination document and navigating a strictly controlled application submission process through the Canadian and UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Committees. HSBRI has been advised that a first step is to submit an "annual report" i.e. a summary of what we have achieved through developing the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative.  The report will show how we reach the criteria of the UNESCO MAB Programme. We have been developing our nomination package, and we currently awaiting new/revised "nomination document guidelines" that will provide an overview of what CCMAB expect from a Biosphere Reserve in the Canadian context. Once we have met CCMABs guidelines we will complete the Nomination application document and submit it to CCMAB. If accepted our nomination will move forward to UNESCO Paris for approval.

Q. Are First Nations supportive?

A. There is interest expressed by the Squamish Nation in the opportunities that a Biosphere Region designation by UNESCO would provide.  

Status of the Initiative

Status of the Initiative

Our volunteer working group is targeting November 2017 to submit a completed draft nomination form to the Canadian Commission for Man and the Biosphere (CCMAB).  We envision the year 2020 to be celebrating the designation by UNESCO if accepted.

At present we are seeking authors of sections on: Overviews, Key Habitats, Species, and Threats related to: Forest, Rivers, Lakes, Rare Endangered Species, Important Wildlife.  If you are interested in participating and have professional working knowledge in these areas within the proposed boundary, please contact us. 

Support for the Initiative has been growing as word spreads about the opportunity.  We are seeking more opportunities to engage with those who live, work and play in the Howe Sound Region. To-date our initiative is supported in writing by the District of West Vancouver, Village of Lions Bay, Bowen Island Municipality, District of Squamish, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Squamish Lillooet Regional District, Town of Gibsons, Gambier Island Local Trust and the Sunshine Coast Regional District. The Suzuki Foundation and other conservation groups are sending letters of support for the initiative.  Interested in having us speak to your group? We welcome the opportunity to inform and answer your questions.