Obtawaing Biosphere Region: Exploring the Expansion & Redefinement of a Biosphere Region
The University of Michigan (U-M) Biological Station Biosphere Reserve (BR) has been expanded, redefined, and re-named to the Obtawaing Biosphere Reserve (OBR) following its 10-year United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) periodic review. OBR is part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and seeks to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments. It combines the natural and social sciences with a view of improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable. This expansion will expand the core regions, buffer zones, and transition areas of the MAB Programme BR layout. This expansion will allow collaboration with various partners including but not limited to local land conservancies, academic institutions, governmental agencies, and tribal communities. Due to this expansion, this research team will help OBR understand the needs of its various partners, research other BR practices, geovisualize the region, and support administrative tasks. Methods that were used to answer these objectives included informal conversations with partners in-person and virtually, site visits of the region, online research through websites, reports, and academic articles on national and international BRs, and visualizing the environment and its inhabitants through ArcGIS. This helped support OBR and the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program during its redefinement and strategic planning process by continuing to push the project forward and create the space to have much needed conversations.
Daniela Fernández Méndez Jiménez, Samuel Frederickson