Obituary: Fred Roots, founder of the Canadian MAB National Committee

Dr. Fred Roots participated in UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in the early days. He was also the founder of the Canadian MAB National Committee which he chaired. He was an enthusiastic and dedicated promoter of the MAB programme in Canada and internationally.

The MAB programme loses a committed and passionate man , a pioneer of sustainable development, tirelessly in the service of reconciliation of humans with nature. At the EuroMAB meeting of October 2013 in Canada, in an inspired speech, he invited the MAB programme to continue to innovate and excel.

In recent years, Fred Roots had been an invaluable advisor, mentor, participant and founding father of the international “Students on Ice” expedition program, sharing his vast knowledge, passion and experience with new generations.

Fred Roots was Science Advisor Emeritus to Environment Canada. He graduated in geological engineering at the University of British Columbia, and received his PhD in geology from Princeton University. He has been recognized by the Explorers Club in NYC with their highest award, the Explorers Club Medal, one he shares with some famous explorers: Knud Rasmussen, Roald Amundsen, Neil Armstrong and Jane Goodall.

We pay tribute to the invaluable contribution of Dr. Fred Roots to the implementation of the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and we extend the deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

Obituary: Bonaventure Guedegbe, National Focal Point in Benin for the MAB Programme


Dr Bonaventure Guedegbe, who held the position of National Focal Point in Benin for the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme as Head of the Department of Environmental Assessment in the Benin Environmental Agency (ABE), passed away on Sunday, 28 August in Paris.

Dr Bonaventure Guedegbe was one of the founding members of the African network of biosphere reserves (AfriMAB) in 1996. Since then, as national focal point for MAB in Benin, he has served the programme with motivation and dedication. He was directly involved in drafting the Charter and Rules of the network, which were adopted in 2010, and contributed to the legal recognition of biosphere reserves in national legislation and regulations. In particular, Dr Bonaventure Guedegbe authored the publication, Evaluation du cadre institutionnel et législatif de gestion des Réserves de Biosphère de la zone ouest africaine francophone.

After his retirement, Dr. Bonaventure Guedegbe dedicated his time to continuing his work in spite of his failing health. His final project was the establishment of a transboundary biosphere reserve between Benin and Togo in the Mono river area.

Dr Bonaventure Guedegbe played an instrumental role in the MAB Programme. His passing is a great loss both for the MAB Programme and the AfriMAB Network.

The entire MAB UNESCO team wish to pay tribute to this great colleague and express their sincere condolences to his family.

Obituary: Pedro Araya, National Focal Point in Chile for the MAB Programme

© Miguel Clüsener-Godt / Pedro Araya, National Focal Point in Chile for the MAB Programme

Mr Pedro Araya Rosas, who held the position of National Focal Point in Chile for the  Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme as Head of the Department of Zoning and Planning in the Management of Protected Areas Corporation (CONAF), passed away on Thursday, 15 November at 9.30 p.m. in Davila Clinic in Santiago, Chile.

Since his designation as focal point for the MAB Programme, Pedro Araya Rosas, inspired with motivation and dedication, promoted the work of CONAF and all stakeholders who actively participated in the MAB Programme at the national and international level. Mr Araya did not despair and continued with his duties despite the diagnosis of his disease that would eventually take his life. Since 2004, Pedro Araya Rosas continuously promoted the MAB Programme in his role as focal point. Among his achievements were the nominations of the Biosphere Reserves Cabo de Hornos,  Bosques Templados Australes and Bosques Corredor Biológico Nevados de Chillan-Laguna del Laja and improvements made to existing  biosphere reserves. He actively participated in regional cooperation programmes such as the ASPACO Project (Asian-Pacific Cooperation for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources in Biosphere Reserves and Similar Managed Areas) and contributed to the editing of numerous UNESCO publications such as “Biosphere Reserve: a space for integration of conservation and development” ; “Biosphere Reserves: their contribution to providing ecosystem services” and “The Biosphere Reserve Model and Instruments for Its Sustainable Use: the Case of Chile”.

At the level of IberoMAB, Mr Araya’s work has been prominent since he organized the XI Meeting of IberoMAB in Chile and he produced the basic document for the medium term evaluation to create an Action Plan for IberoMAB 2010-2020. Lastly, Mr Araya was nominated President of the IberoMAB Network for the period 2011-2014. All these activities demonstrate his unending commitment and dedication. His passing away is a great loss for the MAB Programme and the IberoMAB Network.   

Back to top