Knowledge and Research Forum

– held March 20th to 21st, 2009

The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve (RMBR) hosted a Knowledge and Research Forum on March 20-21, 2009 at Elkhorn Resort Spa and Conference Centre, south of Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP).

The intent of this forum was to bring together individuals who have broad interests and experience with rural landscapes, community development and protected areas. Our purpose in bringing this group together was to identify critical areas of knowledge and research that are needed within the RMBR. This will guide future efforts and will support and promote healthy and thriving rural and aboriginal communities, working landscapes and protected areas.

Research Priorities of the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve
Rural communities in the RMBR need to explore a range of opportunities that will enhance regional infrastructure, increase collaboration between communities, and encourage immigration of creative young people into the region. Based upon discussions leading up to and including the RMBR Research and Knowledge Forum in March 2009 and list of Research Priorities was developed.
Proceedings from the March 20-21, 2009 Knowledge and Research Forum are now available.

Preliminary documents from the Knowledge & Research Forum: 

Forum participants were provided with a list of reference material and informational documents. These documents are available on our Reference Material page. 

Celes Davar, a participant in the Knowledge & Research Forum, has created a post that describes the forum and includes an audio recording of Laura Rance’s keynote address. 

[ Riding Mountain Biosphere Forum features Laura Rance posted by Celes Davar ]

Biosphere guided by grassroots 

by Bill Stilwell

Despite being an organization with worldwide connections designated by UNESCO the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve (RMBR) continues to rely on grassroots support.

The RMBR is an organization that wants to create a healthy biosphere and one that meets both current and future needs. To ensure this happens they held a weekend planning forum in March to get ideas and direction.

”We organized the forum to identify the critical areas of knowledge and research that is needed within the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve to ensure healthy and sustainable communities, working landscapes and protected areas,” said Valerie Pankratz, RMBR executive director.

As an organization that relies on considerable grassroots support, they turned to the community to develop this next phase of research and development, she explains. They also recognize the value of involving a diverse group of interested individuals to develop these future plans that would provide ongoing guidance in the gathering of knowledge and research within the RMBR.

The RMBR is an organization that wants to create a healthy biosphere and one that meets both current and future needs.

”The Knowledge and Research Forum was remarkable in that it served to bring together people from three realms: economic, social and ecological,” said Cary Hamel, a conservation science manager with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). “It is only by integrating these three realms that true landscape-scale ecological and social sustainability will be achieved.”

Hamel was one of the three participants in a panel discussion at the workshop, where he represented the ecological aspect of the discussion. The other panel members were: Dr. Doug Ramsey, a geography professor at Brandon University, and Anne Dandeneau, a community development specialist with Manitoba Food Agriculture and Rural Initiatives.

”The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve supports one of the last remaining ecologically functional landscapes wholly contained within the agricultural matrix of Prairie Canada,” said Hamel. “Decisions related to the ongoing conservation of the biodiversity of this landscape will be made by people. These people, whether they are local farmers, townspeople, tourism operators, members of First Nations, government staff, conservationists or others will make land use, policy and research decisions in the context of the ongoing and rapid economic and social changes occurring on the rural landscape.”

Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve is one of only 15 designated Biosphere Reserves in Canada. It works in partnership with Parks Canada, Environment Canada, the province and the 15 municipalities surrounding the park to achieve the principles of sustainable economic development, conservation of biodiversity and capacity building. Attention is also paid to the social and cultural aspects of biodiversity.

Biosphere reserves consist of a core protected area, such as Riding Mountain National Park, surrounded by a working landscape where people live, and where sustainability is developed through research, education and communications.

There is an important role for the RMBR to play related to knowledge and research, according to the participants of the forum. They also suggested that the RMBR should co-ordinate research priorities and facilitate research amongst partners. There is also a real need to engage local landowners to assist in biological monitoring. This must involved locals and researchers in the scientific community.

The participants also suggest there is a need for a clear mechanism that shows how locals can contribute to research and learn from studies and projects carried out here.

For more information about the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve contact Valerie Pankratz at (204) 848 4574 or by e-mail:[email protected]

Bill Stilwell writes from Neepawa, Manitoba

For more information call Valerie Pankratz
at (204) 636-2085
or e-mail [email protected]

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