Extending Concepts and Practice of State of the Environment Reporting to Biosphere Reserves
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Sustainable development initiatives necessitate actions at local and regional scales that can inform meaningful, context-specific, decision-making for mitigating global unsustainability. State of the Environment (SOE) Reporting is a method used in adaptive management strategies for sustainable development whereby a series of social, environmental, cultural and economic variables are selected and analyzed and act as indicators of the state of a particular region. The reports are utilized to educate stakeholders, organizations, and government about the various trends occurring in a region in order to inform decision-making processes and inspire action towards sustainability. SOE Reporting takes place on many different spatial and temporal scales, but an emphasis has been placed on the importance of multi-level approaches to sustainability as a means to achieve smaller successes that contribute to the global circumstance. This research employed a case study of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve (FAB), located in eastern Ontario, to extend a practical application of SOE Reporting methodology in the context of Biosphere Reserves. This research took advantage of a University-Biosphere Reserve collaboration to develop a SOE Report for the FAB using an adaptive management lens, the pressure-state-response framework for classifying indicators, student-based indicator analysis, and community-based participatory approaches to assess, compile, and communicate a set of indicators for the region. The findings contribute to the current practical knowledge of SOE Reporting in the context of Biosphere Reserves, and discussions center on the use and limitations of the pressure-state-response framework, the importance of community-based consultative processes, the notions of scoring indicator results, the use of partnering with educational institutions, and the potential implications of the SOE Report in the region. We propose an extension of the theory of adaptive management to adaptive facilitation for application of indicator reporting initiatives in BRs, given the lack of jurisdiction that is held by BR practitioners, and the role of indicators as a tool for knowledge empowerment.