UK MAB National Committee Meeting
Tuesday 16 January 2001

   
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The Council Room, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR

MINUTES

Present:

Mike Roberts (Chair)
John Ingram (Secretary)
John Box, UK MAB Urban Forum
Peter Bridgewater, UNESCO MAB Secretariat
Dick Butler, Institute of Biology
Simon Chambers, UK UNESCO National Commission
Mark Collins, WCMC
Mathew Frith, English Nature
Ian Jardine, Scottish Natural Heritage
Ian Melville, Scottish Executive
Martin Price, UHI Project
Rachel Quinn, Royal Society
Helen Shaw, CEH Wallingford
Nigel de Winser, Royal Geographical Society

1. Apologies

Apologies were noted from Ruth Cooper (Royal Society), Peter Freer-Smith (Forest Research), Rachel Hellings (SNH), Richard Leafe (English Nature), Richard Lloyd (Countryside Agency) and Roger Pritchard (DETR). Rachel Quinn, Ian Jardine and Mathew Frith were welcomed as representatives of Ruth Cooper, Rachel Hellings, and Richard Leafe, respectively.

2. Welcome

Mike Roberts welcomed participants and invited a round of introductions. He informed the Committee that he would be stepping down as Chair as from 1 May 2001 when he would be leaving NERC-CEH to take up the position of Chief Executive of the MAFF Central Science Laboratory.

3.Confirmation of the Minutes of the Meeting on 18 January 2000

The Minutes of the Meeting on 18 January 2000 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. John Box asked that his affiliation be changed to “Chair, UK MAB Urban Forum”.

4. Matters Arising

Matters arising were dealt with under main agenda items, below.

5. Reports of recent UK MAB (& EuroMAB) activities(papers were pre-circulated)

a.EuroMAB 2000 Conference (10-14 April 2000)

John Ingram presented a brief overview of the Conference. The committee noted its success and thanks are recorded to the MAB Secretariat staff in Paris (especially Jane Robertson); Martin Price; WCMC staff in Cambridge; and CEH staff (especially Helen Shaw and John Ingram). Peter Bridgewater added his thanks.

b. Recombinant ecology workshop (13 July 2000)

John Box presented a brief overview of this workshop held in collaboration with CEH Monks Wood. A publication is planned. He noted that recombinant ecology is part of a “broader picture” in ecology and is keen to see the Urban Forum involved in any larger initiative.

c. Pamplona Meeting (23-27 October 2000)

Martin Price presented a brief overview of this MAB meeting, at which he was the only UK representative, having been invited in his personal capacity. He felt this had been an important event as it brought together many people actually working in Biosphere Reserves and with a desire to see them fulfil their potential. There were numerous recommendations, which included a desire to see the Seville Strategy become more “user-friendly”. It was noted how the WWW was helping MAB to become more visible. At national level it was recognised there is a need to identify stakeholders and engender their participation on BR activities. Local committees should become more involved in monitoring the state of BRs. BRs should be strengthened regarding agricultural and agrobiodiversity issues.

The need for a simple, clear document setting out the purpose of BRs and how they are differentiated from other designations was noted – the MAB document “Biosphere Reserves in a Nutshell” satisfies this need and should be better promoted on the www

Peter Bridgewater noted that Pamplona generated great activity in regional networks. He also reported that the UNESCO DG and Executive Board had agree three areas of high priority (Water and Ecosystems; Science for Human Sustainable Development; and Science for Sustainable Development of Coastal and Islands Systems) which will lead to a increase In MAB funds. This can be used as seed money for new initiatives, and the MAB secretariat will be strengthened.

The question of improving links between the RGS (and other NGOs) and MAB was raised. A subset of BRs could be identified where research and monitoring over a ca. 10 period could be established. This raised the question of how to identify the “set”. This would be on the Agenda for the MAB-wide Thematic W/S on Monitoring in BRs Expert Meeting (proposed for Kiev, 9-12 April 2001). The RGS offered to host such a meeting if for logistic reasons the Kiev venue/dates proved impractical. The UK MAB Committee could help in the preparations.

ACTION: John Ingram to keep Committee informed of developments.

The discussion on monitoring in BRs concluded that BRIM, the BR Periodic Review and the BR Questionnaires should be rationalised as far as possible while noting that BRIM is aimed at science information, the reviews more at policy and management issues.

The Committee thanked Martin Price for his Pamplona report and noted the importance of keeping BR managers involved in the debate. The EuroMAB meetings series should provide ample opportunity for this.

d. 16th MAB International Coordinating Council Meeting (6-10 November 2000)

John Ingram presented a brief overview of this meeting. He noted that the UK did not have a seat on the Council, and was therefore invited as Observer. It was agreed that the UK should apply for a seat on the MAB ICC (a “space” will become available in November 2001). Peter Bridgewater noted that such was the interest and experience of the UK in MAB that an application to join the MAB Bureau would also be welcomed. This should be taken forward in collaboration with the UK Permanent Delegation to UNESCO. Elections would be held at the general Conference in November 2001. The UK nominee need not be the Chair of the UK MAB Committee.{1}

ACTION: John Ingram to discuss and take forward with Geoff Haley.

It was noted that the presentation given by John Ingram on the UK Urban Forum had been well received, especially by the US delegates. Roger Soles subsequently invited a presentation to the US MAB Committee.

ACTION: A presentation to the US MAB Committee should be set up as occasion allows.{2}

The desirability of a UK event to mark the 30th Anniversary of the MAB programme was noted. Nigel Winser suggested that the RGS could hold a public lecture on a suitable topic.

ACTION: All to send suggestions for events to mark the 30th MAB Anniversary to John Ingram.

ACTION: John Ingram to discuss suggestions for events to mark the 30th MAB Anniversary with the Chair and brief Committee members on options.

e. UK nominee for MAB Urban Roster

Mathew Frith was introduced as the UK Representative on the UNESCO-MAB Roster of Experts on the BR Concept and Urban Issues. Mr Frith has recently been appointed Urban Advisor for English Nature.

6. Update on EuroMAB following Pamplona and 16th MAB ICC

Discussion under this Agenda item was effectively covered by Items 5c and 5d above.

7. Report from the UNESCO UK National Commission

Simon Chambers presented a brief overview of the first year of the UK National Commission for UNESCO. The UK Commission comprises the UK UNESCO Council, and five Sector Committees (Communications; Culture; Education; Science; and Sustainable Development).

He reported an initial emphasis on Communication and Public Awareness of Science. He welcomed the chance to link its work with the MAB world-wide network through the UK MAB National Committee, and looks forward to benefiting from MAB’s experience in handling cross-sectoral issues.

It was noted that at present the UK MAB Programme has no representation on any of the five Sectoral Committees. While it was noted that the work of UK MAB cuts across all five committees, it was agreed that UK MAB should aim to develop a link primarily though the Science Committee.

It was agreed the National Commission and UK MAB Committee should aim to identify areas of commonality, especially in the areas of Communication and Public Awareness of Science.

ACTION: Rachel Quinn to brief Professor Alec Boksenberg on joint interest and to discuss the desirability of convening an annual meeting of Chairs of the UK National Committees for the UNESCO Science Programmes (IHP, IOC, MAB and IGCP).

8. UK Biosphere Reserve review process

Ian Melville tabled and presented the views of DETR (paper attached) in which it was accepted that at present none of the three English Biosphere Reserves meet the Seville Criteria and a re-examination of the boundaries of the reserves is needed along with a consideration of management strategies. In Wales, CCW has expressed support for the extension of the Dyfi BR. In Scotland it has been recommended that four of the existing nine reserves are delisted. The committee agreed that the delisting of these reserves was a strengthening process for UK and global BRs overall, and agreed to support this process.

Peter Bridgewater pointed out that the delisting is the duty of the MAB ICC, working on national recommendations {3}. He concurred that it was important for the UK to give a strong signal to other nations by “bold action” aimed at improving the overall BR network.

DETR noted they are the competent body in national terms to coordinate the national review process. It was agreed there is no need to wait for the final decisions on all UK BRs; DETR should proceed slowly with England and Welsh BRs, but decisions about Scottish BRs could be relayed to Paris at this stage. The Committee confirmed it would support any recommendations made.

The MAB secretariat in Paris would expect to receive recommendations from the UK MAB National Committee (in consultation with the UK National Commission, and with cc to the UK Permanent Delegation to UNESCO), as endorsements of the DETR recommendations. Designation matters can be dealt with at either MAB Bureau (March and September 2001) or ICC (April 2002) meetings.

9. Update on UK MAB Urban Forum

John Box presented the preliminary report of the Urban Forum on the 2000/01 work programme and the proposed work programme for the coming year. It was noted that the Proposed work programme Topic 3 “Urban Biosphere Reserves” was a medium - long-term project. Peter Bridgewater encouraged urban issues and urban areas within Biosphere Reserves; with urban areas - and especially populations - increasing, it is important that Biosphere Reserve thinking moves forward to reflect this.

Peter Bridgewater noted that MAB is pleased to see urban issues prominent on the UK MAB agenda.

ACTION: Helen Shaw to publish LNR review on www.

10. Future UK MAB (& EuroMAB) activities

a. Urban Environmental Issues workshop, Birmingham, April 2002

The European Science Foundation has expressed an interest in co-funding this workshop, and plans are proceeding well. It was noted that the date would have to be carefully set, to avoid clashing with the EuroMAB 2002 meeting in Italy, or any of the several large international meetings taking place in 2002 e.g. Rio+10.

ACTION: John Ingram to liase with Graham Leeks to establish “Urban Issues” workshop date.

b. English Language Training Course, Prague

Martin Price briefly updated the Committee on progress for the proposed English Language Training Course for BR Managers. The British Council has been presented with various options, either for a course hosted in The Czech Republic, or at Losehill Hall in the UK. Consideration of the financial implications is now being made. It was noted that it would be desirable for this course to take place before the end of 2001.

ACTION: Simon Chambers to help lobby for ELTC within British Council.

ACTION: Martin Price to maintain lead in discussions with British Council.

c. EuroMAB 2002 (Italy)

The aim to hold the EuroMAB 2002 Conference in Italy in about April 2002 was noted. It was also noted there may be a problem in raising Participation Programme funds.

d. MAB Young Scientists Awards

It was noted that the paper on MAB Young Scientists Awards was essentially “for information”, as the fund was primarily targeted towards scientists from the developing countries.

e. Sultan Qaboos Prize

It was agreed that the UK National Commission should handle this matter.

11. UK MAB Committee

a. Terms of Reference

Mike Roberts presented the draft Terms of Reference, stressing the emphasis had now shifted away from research and more towards conservation, monitoring and BR management.

Following discussion the committee accepted the draft Terms of Reference as proposed.

b. Membership

It was noted that at present there is no CCW or Northern Ireland representation on the Committee. It was also noted that John Francis could make an excellent contribution.

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.

c. Future arrangements for hosting and funding the UK MAB Secretariat

Mike Roberts noted that the NERC Chief Executive is currently reviewing all NERC’s activities on external committees. Peter Bridgwater noted that MAB would be disappointed to see the link with NERC lost, but agreed the JNCC would provide a logical “home”.

d. WWW site

It was agreed that links to the web site should include links to the UNESCO web information on BRs “Biosphere Reserves in an Nutshell”; and to the UK National Commission web site.

12. Any other business

None.

The Chair closed the meeting by thanking members for their support over the years. The Committee in turn thanked Mike Roberts for his leadership.

John Ingram, Secretary UK MAB Committee

Drafted 23 January 2001
Revised 6 March 2001

[1] Immediately after the meeting Mike Roberts invited Martin Price to have his name put forward as nominee for a UK representative to join the MAB ICC and Bureau. Martin Price confirmed his willingness to take on these roles, subject to his costs being met.

[2] Discussions immediately after the meeting identified the potential mutual benefit to MAB, RGS, Urban Forum and URGENT of a Public Lecture on urban issues.

[3] Subsequent discussion clarified that Article 9, para 8 of the Statutory Framework is “Should a State wish to remove a biosphere reserve under its jurisdiction from the Network, it notifies the Secretariat. This notification shall then be transmitted to ICC for information. The area will then no longer be referred to as a biosphere reserve which is part of the Network”. It is therefore up to the responsible UK authority to make the decision and inform the MAB Secretariat.

 


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