Walking Toward Respect: Historical Geographies of Nature and Possibility in UNESCO MAB’S Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve
This thesis employs an innovative methodological approach to provide a historical geography of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve (FABR), an area designated by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program. Through a walking research method conducted in five hiking locations within the FABR, I identified important themes and current issues related to the key concepts used to define and understand biosphere reserves; ecology, ecosystem, conservation, and sustainable development and followed them back through the institutional history of MAB. By attending to the complexity of meanings held by each of the key concepts, the research seeks to identify moments of possibility within MAB’s past for promoting the FABR's purpose as a site of socio-ecological learning. These moments are at risk of being forgotten as social issues are generally overshadowed by a focus on economic development within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The research presented here provides important historical and political context to help situate the current approach to sustainable development at the FABR by attending to three other overlapping institutional temporal scales centered around the following key events: the creation of UNESCO and its conservation organizations from 1929-1969; the planning and implementation of the MAB program from 1968-2000; and finally, the implementation of Canada’s national MAB program from 1972-2000. The key contributions of this work include a historical geographical methodology that blends embodied walking research with archival inquiry, a summary of resources from MAB’s history for biosphere reserve practitioners in Canada who are working towards building positive cross-cultural relationships with Indigenous individuals and organizations, and the documentation of key insights from MAB’s history related to ongoing efforts in the discipline of geography to a meaningful integration of the human and physical sciences.