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VIU, City of Parksville reach agreement on biosphere

It’s one of only two officially designated biospheres in the province

Vancouver Island University (VIU) and the City of Parksville say they are working closely to support and protect the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve (MABR) designation

VIU and the city recently signed a memorandum of understanding they say is intended to establish a foundation for regional cooperation in areas of mutual benefit and interest pertaining to the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized and designated the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve to ensure environmental, economic and social (including cultural and spiritual) sustainability. VIU and the city say they share similar interests and support the mandate and goals of the UNESCO Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve designation and will work together as caretakers of the MABR to enhance the regional benefits which derive from such a designation.

"The MABR provides an important scholarship and applied research venue for VIU right in our backyard," says David Witty, VIU Provost and Vice-President Academic. "It offers exciting opportunities for a variety of interdisciplinary and discipline based activity across cultural, economic, natural environment and social themes. It also links VIU to the broader national and international world of UNESCO."

"Maintaining ourselves as one of only two biosphere reserves in the entire province helps to differentiate this region and speaks perfectly to our ongoing goals to be a place of innovation and learning," said Parksville Mayor Chris Burger.

VIU and the city say some of the goals of the memorandum of understanding are to:

• Promote the mandate and goals of the UNESCO designation in general and the MABR in particular;

• Explore and promote the enhancement of the role of the MABR within the region;

• Promote the cultural, economic, environmental and social health of the region as it pertains to the MABR;

• Identify community engagement opportunities and research related to the MABR mandate;

• Ensure the City's Official Community Plan and associated bylaws and policies frame future discussions related to the MABR;

• Prepare a short-term action plan by June 30, 2014, an interim action plan by December 31, 2014, and review accomplishments and next steps by November 30, 2015.

— NEWS Staff/VIU/City of Parksville