UK MAB National Committee Meeting
Friday 8 February 2002

Committee Members
UK Biosphere Reserves
"Biosphere Reserves in a Nutshell" - an explanation of the Biosphere Reserve Concept
EuroMAB Pages
Urban Forum Pages
Minutes: UK MAB Committee 2000
Minutes: UK MAB Committee 2001
  Minutes: UK MAB Committee 2002
Useful Links

  The Council Room, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London




Hilary Neal, DEFRA (Incoming Chair)
John Ingram, CEH (Secretary)
John Box, UK MAB Urban Forum
Peter Dogsé, UNESCO MAB Secretariat
Dick Butler, Institute of Biology
Simon Chambers, UK UNESCO National Commission
Mark Collins, WCMC
Ian Melville, Scottish Executive
Martin Price, UHI Millennium Institute
Katie Dodsley, CEH Wallingford
Nigel de Winser, Royal Geographical Society
Rachel Hellings, SNH
Richard Lloyd, Countryside Agency


1.                  Welcome

John Ingram welcomed participants and invited a round of introductions.


2.      Handover of Chair from NERC-CEH to DEFRA

John Ingram handed over the Chair to Hilary Neal from DEFRA. Hilary Neal introduced herself and informed the Committee how the MAB Programme fitted into DEFRA’s vision and key responsibilities. Hilary Neal thanked John Ingram for his help and organisation of the meeting.


3.                  Apologies

Apologies were noted from Ruth Cooper (Royal Society) and Andrew Bennett (DFID).


4.                  Confirmation of the Minutes of the Meeting on 16 January 2001

The Minutes of the Meeting on 16 January 2001 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.

It was noted that the Terms of Reference were accepted as proposed in the minutes, but it would be useful to have a copy of them in an annex to the minutes.

ACTION:  Secretary to include a copy of the Terms of Reference as an appendix in the last meeting minutes.

It was noted the meetings of the UK MAB Committee were about one a year, but it was not necessarily an “annual” event.

Section 5d - ACTION: A presentation to the US MAB Committee on the Urban Forum should be set up as occasion allows. This still holds.

Section 11b - ACTION: Mike Roberts to invite Peter Frost to represent CCW; and to identify and invite a suitable representative for Northern Ireland; and to invite John Francis. Action delayed pending Chair being moved from NERC but it was noted that the Urban Forum Committee has a CCW representative.

All other matters arising were dealt with under main agenda items, below.


5.         UK MAB Committee Sponsorship, Chair and Secretariat 

    1. Future Arrangements for Hosting Secretariat and Funding

The UK MAB Secretariat will formally operate from DEFRA with effect from 8 February 2002. It was agreed that John Ingram would continue to support the Committee until the April Urban Science workshop is over and while the handover is underway.

John Ingram explained that the past two years have been unusually hectic for the UK MAB Secretariat at NERC-CEH as the UK has also been hosting EuroMAB. The EuroMAB duties will move later in the year to Italy.

John Box agreed that the Urban Forum Secretariat should continue to be hosted by CEH Wallingford, adjacent to the URGENT Programme Secretariat. 

    1. WWW site

The UKMAB website will need to be changed to show that the Secretariat is now hosted by DEFRA. 

ACTION: Hilary Neal to discuss web site changes with her department.


6.         Reports of Recent UK MAB (&EuroMAB) Activities

                   a.   MAB 30th Anniversary

John Ingram reported that the MAB 30th Anniversary was recognised with a public lecture by Tony Bradshaw. Peter Bridgewater and John Hadley introduced the event, which was attended by about 45 people. The evening strengthened valuable links between the Urban Science and MAB communities. Thanks were recorded to Peter Bridgewater via Peter Dogsé for his participation in the event.


7.                  Report from the UNESCO UK National Commission

Simon Chambers reported that there are three reference documents, all available on the UNESCO web:

a.         UNESCO Strategy 2002 – 2007: this document attempts a clear synthesis of UNESCO's purpose and its objectives over the next five-year period. It sets out the

global context of UNESCO's work and links the organisation to a more co-ordinated effort by the United Nations system as a whole in support of poverty reduction and equitable development. The strategy gives helpful summaries of several of UNESCO's stand-alone programmes, such as the World Heritage Convention and the International Oceanographic Commission. A one-page statement of the strategy can be found at, (page 19)

b.         UNESCO Programme and Budget: The programme and budget covers the next two-year period, 2002-03. It elaborates the objectives given in the strategy for each sector, suggests budgetary allocations, and sets out expected outcomes. It gives relatively little in terms of programme detail – the activities by which the stated outcomes are to be achieved. All General Conference documents - including strategy/programme and budget – are available on-line at

c.         DFID Institutional Strategy Paper: As the lead government department for UK membership of UNESCO, DFID has produced a short paper stating the government's broad aims and the Department's specific objectives for its relations with UNESCO. The paper acknowledges that the interests of other departments, such as DCMS, DEFS, DEFRA - and departments of the UK's devolved administrations - are not represented. The assessment of UNESCO programmes in the paper reflects the clear DFID priority of contribution to poverty reduction. UK UNESCO made full use of the opportunity to comment. The draft document was carried on, and wide-ranging textual changes were proposed to DFID. Many of these were taken up in the final version, available at

It was agreed that the UK National Commission should electronically circulate key documents to the UK MAB Committee members on a routine basis.

ACTION:  Simon Chambers to circulate key documents as appropriate to the UK MAB Committee members.

The Royal Society convened a meeting involving representatives from all of UNESCO’s standing science programmes in the UK (IOC, IHP, IGCP and MAB). Participants were clearly focused on sustaining their individual programmes but had not explored potential for linkage with others. UNESCO Headquarters is now more aware of the need to boost the impact of these programmes through collaborative activities, including a common approach to public communications. The National Commission would like to play a part in such a process in the UK- and would welcome ideas from the MAB Committee on how to ensure a more joined-up approach.

Simon Chambers referred to the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASP) as one possible vehicle. Though lapsed in the UK (during the period of the UK’s absence from UNESCO) there was now interest in adapting specific ASP projects for incorporation into UK curricula. A similar approach proved successful in the Baltic region, where schools worked on trans-national projects – for example, concerning climate change and coastal management. These networks tend to be well managed, with links to the respective national MAB Committees.

It was suggested that UK MAB might identify projects of relevance to young people in the UK; with support from the UK UNESCO National Commission, these could help strengthen the coverage of environmental science and environmental management issues in UK education.

The World Heritage Education project could prove especially effective in this regard. The project aimed to combine geographical, historical and scientific perspectives in the study of natural and built heritage sites. Since UNESCO had designated a range of sites in most countries around the world, this project ensured a more equal basis for young people’s collaboration. The transferability to UK schools and colleges of material produced by UNESCO headquarters under this project was currently being assessed.

Richard Lloyd said that an increase in public awareness is crucial to MAB as it is unknown. At the moment MAB is described very technically and is poorly portrayed for general readership.

Rachel Hellings stated that in Scotland there is a problem with raising the visibility of Biosphere Reserves as there are several similar programmes. Raising the visibility of another designation at a local level would cause problems, so caution could have to be taken.

Hilary Neal said that there is a need to consider the value of Biosphere Reserves and how to use them in education, tourism and public appreciation. The already proposed work shop for Reserve Coordinators and managers to discuss how the Biosphere Reserves work would be an important initial step in taking this forward.

Two ongoing projects were noted:

a. UEA and partners are planning a conference on science for sustainable development with a purpose to get scientists and the government to see what is missing in the UK.

b. UNEP are interested in an education and public awareness project. Is there a possibility of linking this with the Associated Schools Project and the Living Wealth of Africa Project.

Peter Dogsé stated that UNESCO would like to see more work done with young people and that UNESCO needs to work harder to link programmes together with school networks. MAB needs to be a part of this system.

It was noted there is a need to clarify the link between UK MAB Committee and the UK National Commission especially in regard to reporting lines.

ACTION: Hilary Neal to clarify the link between UK MAB Committee and the UK National Commission with Simon Chambers.


8.       UK Biosphere Reserve Review Process

The report coordinated by Martin Price while he was at the University of Oxford was submitted to the meeting of the Advisory Committee on Biosphere Reserves in 1999, with the agreement of DETR.  Its conclusions were also presented and discussed during the International expert meeting on the implementation of the Seville Strategy of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves 1995-2000, held in Pamplona in 2000.

A formal letter needs to be sent to the UNESCO Council from DEFRA explaining, in positive terms, the reasoning for delisting four Biosphere Reserves. The letter must arrive in Paris in time for the MAB International Coordinating Council Meeting (starting on 18 March 2002), and should be copied to the UK National Committee, the Scottish Executive, the UK representative at UNESCO in Paris and the managers at the sites. Any UK Press Release related to this matter should be agreed with the Scottish Executive.

Dick Butler noted that the Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve is frequently in the local press so the MAB Council should think carefully about delisting Biosphere Reserves.

It was agreed that a Scottish Delegate should represent UK in the MAB Council Meeting in Paris to promote the UK stance as necessary. If received in time, Peter Dogsé concurred that the MAB Secretariat transmits the UK notification to the MAB Council for information, presumably under the agenda item ‘Periodic review of Biosphere Reserves’, scheduled for 19 March 2002.

ACTION:  Ian Melville to decide who should best represent UK interests at the MAB Council meeting.

ACTION:  UK MAB Web Manager to remove relevant sites from UK MAB website on 18 March 2002.


9.         Report from the UK MAB Urban Forum (Annual Report circulated prior to the meeting) 

Thanks was given to Helen Shaw of NERC-CEH and Matthew Wilkinson of the University of Manchester for the work they carried out on the Urban Forum web site.

Key events of the Urban Forum have been the Urban Wildlife Awards for continual work on good site management, education and the improvement of the website. Through the web site John Box is hoping to link with other European programmes and develop a good Urban Forum network. Work has also been continuing on the Urban Parks Review. The paper is available on the web ( with recommendations with respect to management and the possibility of a separate Government Agency.

The Urban Forum Committee membership has changed. Two members left and three joined. There is now a good, diverse range of people involved.

Hilary Neal mentioned DEFRA’s interest in Urban Biodiversity. DEFRA are working on a Biodiversity Strategy for England, which has a strong urban and development work stream, led by Mathew Frith EN, urban expert.

Rachel Hellings said that SNH is represented on the Urban Forum Committee but that links need to be strengthened.


10.       Future UK MAB (& EuroMAB) Activities

a.                  Urban Science Workshop, Birmingham, April 2002 (Paper tabled)

EuroMAB 2000 decided to promote urban science in MAB. It was decided to hold a multi-sponsored workshop in conjunction with the URGENT two day Annual Meeting and ESF (who are interested in promoting their Forward Look Programme in Urban Science).

b.                  EuroMAB 2002 (Italy)

Peter Dogsé reported that the preparation for EuroMAB 2002, where Italy assumes Chair of EuroMAB, is well under way. It is to be held 7-12 October 2002 in Rome and will involve National Committees and local coordinators, with a planning meeting on 22 March.

c.                   UK representation on MAB ICC

Action item brought forward from the previous meeting:

Section 5d – ACTION: UK Representation on ICC: John Ingram to discuss and take forward with Geoff Haley. John Ingram reported that UK was not included at the last elections but could nevertheless operate influentially and effectively from the floor. 

d.                  UK Biosphere Reserve Workshop

It was agreed that a workshop is needed to discuss the future of Biosphere Reserves in the UK.

It was noted that the workshop would be by invitation only with key members and interested parties included, (such as the Biosphere Reserve managers) and should include global and national policy making, the exchange of good practice experience and relevant case studies. The workshop can consider both what the Committee does in the future, and what the local managers expect from the Committee. Nigel Winser said that a workshop statement on biosphere reserves, their purposes, changing landscapes and sustainable development would be a good idea.

The Committee decided that a sub-committee is needed to plan the workshop. The need for Terms of Reference for the UK Biosphere Reserves workshop was noted.

ACTION:  Martin Price, Rachel Hellings and Dick Butler to start planning for the workshop and to circulate initial ideas on location, purpose, invitees to the Committee.

e.                  Czech/EuroMAB Workshop “The Role of Wetlands in the Biosphere Reserves” (A paper was circulated prior to the meeting)

This item was noted.


11.              Any Other Business

It was noted that the MAB National UK Committee Terms of Reference are very general and procedural and need to be updated to provide more of a focus, and be more related to science and policy.  

The following  points were raised in discussion:

a.             The Terms of Reference need to have more of a focus;

b.      The role of the Committee should be to draw people together from various groups;

c.       There needs to be better management of the Biosphere Reserves network;

d.      It would be good to have an ongoing portfolio of one or two projects to cover how they are progressing, and funding issues.

e.      It was also noted that a broader committee is required.

ACTION: Hilary Neal to produce a paper on the functions and membership of the Committee.

Formal thanks were given to John Ingram for his work as Secretary for the UK MAB Committee. The UNESCO MAB Secretariat also wished to thank John Ingram for his work.


12.       Date of Next Meeting

The Committee agreed to hold the next Meeting in conjunction with the UK Biosphere Reserves workshop in the autumn.



4.         ACTION: Secretary to include a copy of the Terms of Reference as an appendix in the last meeting minutes.

 5.         ACTION: Hilary Neal to discuss web site changes with her department.

7.         ACTION: Simon Chambers to circulate key documents as appropriate to the UK MAB Committee members. 

ACTION: Hilary Neal to clarify the link between UK MAB Committee and the UK National Commission with Simon Chambers.

 8.         ACTION: Ian Melville to decide who should best represent UK interests at the MAB Council meeting. 

ACTION: UK MAB Web Manager to remove relevant sites from UK MAB website on 18 March 2002. 

10d.     ACTION: Martin Price, Rachel Hellings and Dick Butler to start planning for the workshop and to circulate initial ideas on location, purpose, invitees to the Committee. 

11.       ACTION: Hilary Neal to produce a paper on the functions and membership of the Committee.

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