Profile of a Biosphere Reserve: The University of Michigan Biological Station, USA, and its conformity to the Man and Biosphere Program

TitleProfile of a Biosphere Reserve: The University of Michigan Biological Station, USA, and its conformity to the Man and Biosphere Program
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsHeinen JThomas, Kopple RJVande
JournalNatural Areas Journal
Volume23
Issue2
Pagination165-173
KeywordsSITE
Abstract

We used interviews, site visits and reviews of published and unpublished policy and management documents to consider how the management of the University of Michigan Biological Station (USA) conforms to its designation as a Biosphere Reserve under the United Nations Man and the Biosphere Programme. As one of the nation's foremost university teaching and research stations, the biological station is an exemplary biosphere reserve by several criteria. It provides nearly unique research and educational functions including state-of-the-art facilities for studying soils, atmospheric chemistry, and stream biology. The reserve therefore succeeds at addressing the overarching goal of studying human effects on the biosphere, as well as several other objectives of the Man and Biosphere Programme. Several of its projects and programs have led to the creation of important regional organizations that address critical needs in science education and watershed management, and thus the reserve has also achieved significant public outreach and education. By other criteria, however, it is lacking. The biological station follows some but not all of the zoning criteria proposed by Man and Biosphere. Serveral management plans have been prepared by student groups, but there was no assessment of them nor were alternatives developed. The biological station's Land Use Committee has met rarely over the past several decades, and there is no process in place to assess managerial options or perform outreach with local landowners. Based on this analysis, we make several recommendations about the management of the reserve and about assessing other biosphere reserves for their conformity to the international standards. The University of Michigan Biological Station is in need of an approved management plan that assesses potential areas for acquisition and explores and refines the zoning currently in place. A modest, ongoing public outreach program is also proposed.