AFTER months in the planning and community feedback and voting, the good news came through last week that the Sunshine Coast has officially been recognised internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The Sunshine Coast region now proudly stands as an international site of excellence and an area of natural beauty – but to be biased, we already knew that, but now the rest of the world will be let in what we know and love.
Sunshine Coast Council Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said joining the network of UNSECO Biosphere reserves was a significant program to be part of.
“This designation supports our commitment to remain future-focused and how each of us can contribute to a sustainable region as we live, work and play on the Sunshine Coast,” Cr Suarez said.
“Being a biosphere also has a range of benefits, particularly for our tourism and agriculture industries as our biosphere designation could support a sustainable ‘Produced on the Sunshine Coast’ brand which increases the value of products and services.
“With this designation, our region has the potential to become a magnet for others from around the world who want to buy from and visit a region that focuses on sustainability.”
Cr Suarez stated that the endorsement was the culmination of years of work and preparation.
“I’d like to thank the Community Reference Group and the wider community for partnering with council in this process.”
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the recognition was a truly historic moment for the Sunshine Coast.
“I am very proud to live and work in a region that has now become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, as we continue to celebrate people and nature,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“After years in the making, this prestigious designation will help us protect and enhance our region, communities, economy and our natural environment for future generations.
“Committing to being a biosphere ensures people on the Sunshine Coast can be confident their council and their broader community respect the environment and understand their place living within it.
“A biosphere designation shows the world we are a community that wants to live in harmony with our environment, recognises the need for responsible development to cater for the people choosing to live on the Sunshine Coast while also recognising the importance of preserving our natural environment.”
Biosphere Community Reference Group (CRG) Chair Will Shrapnel said the group had informed and shaped what a biosphere designation would mean for the community through the nomination process, and the work would continue as the project now moved into the implementation phase.
“This is just the start of the journey,” Mr Shrapnel said.
“As a council and a community, now we start the process of evolving and applying what it means for us to be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
“With this official designation, nothing changes overnight in terms of how we go about our daily lives, however, it provides great clarity around what our future looks like as a region with sustainability as a fundamental consideration in the choices we make going forward.
“So many of us have chosen to live on the Sunshine Coast for its natural beauty and lifestyle and this designation helps us clarify how we value as a community and how council can support us in protecting and enhancing what we have now for the benefit of future generations.”
To learn more, please visit Sunshine Coast Council’s website and search “biosphere”.
Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. They integrate three main ‘functions’:
*Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity.
*Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable.
*Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training.
Other notable world Biospheres include the Black Forest in Germany, Isle of Man in the UK and the Rocky Mountains in the USA.
REPRESENTING THE REGION
COUNCIL’S in-house graphic design team thoughtfully created a new logo as part of the Sunshine Coast Biosphere’s branding.
The new logo shows fanned-out leaves positioned in a radial pattern to show the energy of our region and the outward vision of our biosphere, and each leaf represents a different element of our biosphere, celebrating people and nature.
The teal leaf represents our networking and relationships – social, environmental and economic.
The ochre leaf represents our hinterland, geology and ancient history and also features the shoulder of Mount Tibrogargan.
The green leaf represents us – the people element of our biosphere and the central role we play in caring for our region.
The golden leaf represents sunshine – the brightness and energy of our region, and finally the blue leaf represents our coastal environment and waterways.