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Georgian Bay Biosphere celebrates 20 years as a UNESCO region! 

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

In 2004, the Georgian Bay Biosphere was recognized by UNESCO as a globally ecologically significant region with the potential to promote sustainable development – striving for “a balance between people and nature.” 

The founders who shared that vision included cottagers, residents, Indigenous people, and boaters – representing groups with strong connections to Georgian Bay and sharing a concern for future generations. We feel fortunate to have been volunteers in support of that vision in 2002, and thrilled to have been hired in 2009 as the Biosphere’s Management Team. 

The international Biosphere model is considered an “experiment in sustainable development” and helps us have a conversation about appropriate forms of development that respect the Bay and inland lakes. The practices we promote, including keeping shorelines naturally vegetated, and making roads safer for wildlife and people, help meet our community needs without threatening the lands, waters and species that sustain us.

Today, that conversation about how to balance people and nature continues more urgently than ever. As part of a world network of 738 biosphere sites in 134 countries, including 19 in Canada, UNESCO asks our region to take global action. GBB is responding to that call for global biodiversity protection by teaching it in our own backyard, and leading on climate action to mitigate fossil fuel use and GHG emissions as a region. 

While our research and education activities continue, we are focused more than ever on respecting the land while ensuring people are meeting their needs. Caring for people and place means that solutions are developed locally so they are accessible, equitable and inclusive.

Over 20 years, the Georgian Bay Biosphere staff and partners have witnessed many small moments of connection – not just with people that care about “the environment” – but with countless people that care deeply about the health of water, wildlife, climate, and the wellbeing of people that may be struggling in our communities. 

We have witnessed countless moments of children’s wonder at discovering something new in nature. We have seen faces of people connect with new knowledge and awareness about our place. We have watched how projects create a sense of pride and belonging. And we have gratefully learned protocols and received Indigenous teachings as a way to reconcile with the land and with each other.

The Biosphere team has become a family, adapting wonderfully to challenges while relentlessly pursuing important new opportunities. This dynamic team, united by their shared passion, have contributed to building resilient, caring communities. Whether our work is related to water quality or climate action, growing food or connecting with youth, it is a balance of caring for people and place.

To everyone who has worked, volunteered, or supported GBB over the years, we extend our sincere thanks! 

We are proud of working with thousands of individuals to protect the environment and create more vibrant communities. It is because of your commitment to the Biosphere as a special place, and your positive actions in working with us, that we have strengthened our vision for a sustainable future. 

Thank you! Chi-Miigwech!

Greg Mason and Becky Pollock,

GBB Management Team

P.S. We have many events planned to celebrate this milestone! When you see us, please share how GBB has made a difference, and what your vision is for the next 20 years!

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With your support, we can expand our impact in the Georgian Bay region through conservation and education.

We are a registered Canadian charity #87100 1335 RR0001