Isle of Wight can benefit so much from UNESCO biosphere status

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This is the first in a series of columns on the IW UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

The aim is to help people understand what the biosphere is and how it will be an important part of protecting, preserving and improving our precious local environment in the years to come.

The IW was awarded this status together with the surrounding coasts of the Solent and the English Channel in June 2019. This officially recognized that we have significant global resources of cultural and biological diversity and a political framework that is able to preserve them as part of a lively working community.

The importance and value of this status may be seen in the fact that there are only 714 biosphere reserves in the United States in the world, and only seven in the UK.

UNESCO is the United Nations’ organization for education, science and culture and tries to create peace through international cooperation. The name connects the island directly to these principles and the broader goals of the United Nations.

The reserves are defined as “locations of excellence to promote the harmonious integration of man and nature for sustainable development through participation, knowledge, well-being, cultural values ​​and the ability of society to cope with change”.

Although biosphere status itself does not provide any additional powers or funds, it is a mark of global excellence and will provide an effective way to strengthen and support existing legal and political protection for our natural and cultural heritage.

A central element for this is the development of the new island plan, which recognizes and promotes the principles and goals of the biosphere with regard to future land use and development.

In future articles, those who advocate the status of the biosphere and what supports it will outline how the biosphere is helping and promoting a sustainable future that will both benefit the IW people and protect our precious environment.

You will learn how the status can and is used to support and develop important parts of our economy such as tourism, agriculture and innovation. We have been given a valuable tool. We have to make the most of it now.


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