National Committee Meeting
Ergon House, Smith Square, London SW1
Present: Hilary Neal Defra (chair)
Apologies: Mark Collins WCMC
1.0 Welcome and apologies
1.1 Hilary Neal welcomed participants and gave apologies.
2.0 Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
2.1 The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.
2.2 Item 9. Dave Dawson proposed that the annual report of the Urban Forum should be circulated to the committee prior to the next meeting.
Action: Dave Dawson to liase with urban forum secretariat to provide annual report
2.3 Item 10c. It was noted that the next elections to the ICC would take place in 2004. The UK should remain open to the possibility of promoting a UK representative.
Action: Simon Chambers to clarify procedure for election to ICC
3.0 Function, Terms of Reference and Membership of the Committee
3.1 Paper 1 was noted. Hilary Neal explained that the ideas presented in the paper had developed from the Braunton Burrows workshop. It aimed to link MAB with other national and international policy initiatives for biodiversity. Proposals to open out the programme and make it known to a wider audience were welcomed. Simon Chambers considered that the draft ToR  should also include promoting UK biodiversity policy internationally. For example, the British Council could encourage international links for UK Biosphere Reserves. The international aspects of the MAB programme gave it additional value and it was a good example of the ecosystem approach. The links between the UK committee and the Urban Forum were discussed. It was agreed that these did not need to be formalised but should be noted in the terms of reference.
Action: Secretariat to revise the draft Terms of Reference in the light of suggestions and further comments in writing
3.2 Support was expressed for expanding the membership of the committee to include most of the suggested organisations . AONBs would be able to cover the Local Authority side. Biosphere Reserve managers and IUCN should each be invited to nominate a representative to sit on the committee. Wildlife and Countryside Link should also be approached. Dfid should be invited to appoint a new member of the committee and the FCO should be part of a wider corresponding network. Additional ideas included the tourism, business and voluntary sectors, reflecting the importance of people in the MAB concept. It was agreed however that it would be more appropriate to take the MAB message out to these particular interest groups than to involve them in the work of the committee. It was agreed that an information prospectus about MAB and UK MAB would be drawn up to circulate to invitees and a wider audience.
4.0 Braunton Burrows Workshop report
4.1 Richard Butler reported on the workshop held at Braunton Burrows in November 2002 following the extension of the Biosphere Reserve. A draft copy of the proceedings was noted . The workshop was successful in both engaging the local community, including business, and in extending understanding of the MAB concept. A range of initiatives are being taken forward following the workshop including on tourism, education and local produce. Interreg funding is being sought to take forward the work. It was important to share experience at Braunton Burrows with other BRs.
Action: Secretariat to clarify arrangements for printing and circulating the workshop proceedings to attendees
4.2 Hilary Neal commented that the extension to Braunton Burrows was a triumph achieved through a great deal of hard work, mainly at the local level. The workshop had been extremely well organised and had informed thinking about the future of the UK committee. The committee recorded its thanks to Richard Butler and to Andy Bell and his team. The committee would like to receive an annual report from Braunton Burrows and the other UK BRs.
Action: Richard Butler to explore with the local BB team the possibility of producing an annual report
Action: Secretariat to organise the provision of an annual report from the BRs
5.0 Taking forward the periodic review
5.1 Rachel Hellings reported that the ICC viewed the decision to de-list 4 UK sites as a positive step, recognising that not all of the old style BRs will be able to meet the Seville criteria.
5.2 Of the remaining BRs in Scotland, Cairnsmore of Fleet/Silver Flowe/Merrick Kells and Taynish are currently considering ways to meet the new criteria.
Action: Rachel Hellings to look into the potential of the Galloway Forest Park initiative as a model
5.3 Tim Hill reported that the local manager in Moor House-Upper Teesdale is keen to explore ways of meeting the criteria, with particular regard to involving people. The committee should give a clear message of support to BR mangers in working towards meeting the criteria.
5.4 Hilary Neal confirmed that the committee supported and encouraged local initiatives to fulfil the Seville criteria, but recognised that the criteria could not be imposed. It was disappointing the MAB terminology was viewed in some cases as a barrier and in the case of Braunton Burrows this had clearly been overcome, setting an example of how the designation could be used to advantage.
5.6 To help local managers begin the process a publicity booklet should be developed building on the experience at Braunton Burrows, including the consultation process and the positive press coverage. Other local managers should also be invited to contribute experience.
6.0 Report from UK UNESCO
6.1 Simon Chambers reported that the UK National Commission to UNESCO is under review. Their role includes promoting UNESCO in the UK generally and developing links with other relevant initiatives. The commission is working to attract a wider audience for UNESCO's work, especially among young people.
6.2 The Government's emerging strategy on Education for Sustainable Development has a clear link with MAB. The establishment of a cross-departmental working group has been recommended by Defra and the UK MAB Committee may wish to consider preparing a position paper to feed into the working group. A number of other countries in the EuroMAB region - Austria, France, Germany and Switzerland - are looking at using MAB as a tool for building informal public awareness. UNESCO has produced a CD Rom on ESD.
6.3 Hilary Neal said that Defra are working to include Children and Young People in the development of biodiversity policy.
6.4 Simon Chambers reported that Peter Bridgewater had raised the possibility of the UK funding a post within UNESCO to develop links between biological and cultural diversity.
7.0 Raising the profile of Biosphere Reserves
7.1 Richard Butler said that an education project with Plymouth University was going ahead, using the Biosphere Reserve activities as an educational resource for foundation courses. The committee commended this initiative and asked to be kept informed.
7.2 Hilary Neal proposed that Andy Bell be invited to speak about MAB and the Braunton Burrows BR as an example of the ecosystem approach at the UK Biodiversity Partnership conference in May.
8.0 Report from UK MAB Urban Forum
8.1 Dave Dawson reported that the urban forum is undertaking a wide range of work. The forum has a membership of 20-25 people with small working groups taking forward individual projects. The work programme has recently been reviewed to bring it up-to-date with current urban issues. Projects include work on urban Biosphere Reserves and on urban green spaces and biodiversity. Attention was drawn to the www.ukmaburbanforum.org.uk website where the forums work programme and publications are available.
8.2 Hilary Neal recognised the valuable work of the Urban Forum and was keen to work closely with the forum on implementing the urban strand of the England Biodiversity Strategy.
8.3 Dave Dawson proposed that Defra should make a presentation to the Urban Forum at a future meeting.
9.0 Sultan Qaboos prize and Young Scientist Award
9.1 The UK UNESCO national commission had promoted the MAB Young Scientist award 2004 on its website. No applications had been received as yet.
9.2 Applications had been invited from UNESCO for The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation. It was agreed that Andy Bell and his team be put forward for their work in enhancing the Braunton Burrows BR.
Action: Richard Butler to proceed with the application
10.0 Date and location of next meeting
Thursday 19 February 2004.
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