Reinforcing cooperation and sustainability in East-Asian Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere Reserve managers, experts and lecturers from 15 countries across Asia as well as Europe and Africa gathered during 20-30 in Wudalianchi Biosphere Reserve and Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China to attend the 6th international training workshop of the East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN). Aiming at sharing and reinforcing BR management experience and capacity, the workshop covered a range of issues including zonation, biodiversity conservation, socio-economic development, exchange of information on the major functions of BRs in member countries.

The workshop sought to promote cooperative research on biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development in and around BRs, strengthen cooperation between EABRN and member countries, and encourage international and regional cooperation with other networks. Special attention was given to developing the capacity of BR managers through the application of modern technologies and spatial tools.

Under the overall theme of sustainable management of biosphere reserves, the workshop was designed for biosphere reserve management professionals, and included lectures, discussions, a field work component in Wudalianchi and a session at the Harbin Base of HIST. Moreover, a presentation and demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operation, data collection and analysis for BR management was delivered by the UAV manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co.,Ltd.

Mr. Hans Thulstrup, Programme Specialist for Natural Sciences at UNESCO Beijing Office addressed the opening ceremony on 20 May by underscoring the particular responsibility of Biosphere Reserve to demonstrate sustainability in action, “Biosphere Reserves have the potential – and the duty – to show how the sustainable future of humankind can be secured.” He encouraged the participants to “work together to thrive, learn from each other, and exchange experiences for the future sustainability of the sites we represent, the places we love.”

Mr. Qu Shuguang, Director, Wudalianchi Administration Committee, Mr. Shim Suk-Kyung, Vice Chair of the ROK National Man and the Biosphere Committee, Mr. Bai Chengshou, Deputy Director, Department of Nature Environmental Conservation, Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, Mr. Ni Hongwei, Director of Harbin Centre of HIST, Professor Mr. Natarajan Ishwaran, and Participant representative Ms. Potikha Elena (Russia) also addressed delegates at the opening ceremony.

The training workshop was organized collaboratively by the EABRN Secretariat at UNESCO Beijing Office, the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage under the Auspices of UNESCO (HIST), the Wudalianchi Administration Committee and Chinese National Committee for MAB, and made possible through the support of the Republic of Korea National Commission for UNESCO and HIST.

Adding a new dimension to the EABRN training workshop series, HIST had invited the participation of SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd., a global leader in developing and manufacturing innovative aerial robotics technology for commercial and recreational use. A team from DJI and Tongji University provided a demonstration on the use of UAVs for the management of Biosphere Reserves. Based on field data acquired by UAVs at Wudalianchi, the team developed 3D models of the Biosphere Reserve and discussed the application of these models to land use monitoring and planning.

A signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding between HIST and Wudalianchi Administration Committee on the establishment of Wudalianchi as a HIST Base for Research and Capacity Building was held after the opening ceremony. According to the memorandum, the two parties will collaborate closely to build Wudalianchi into an international scientific research and training base, as well as promote scientific research based on space technologies under the principles of “mutual benefit, complementary advantages, equal co-operation and joint development”.
The training workshop was formally closed at a ceremony held on 29 May at the HIST Harbin Base in the Heilongjiang Academy of Sciences in Harbin. Representatives of the organizers congratulated participants on their successful completion of the workshop and awarded the 19 participants with certificates of completion. Addressing the closing ceremony, Mr. Thulstrup noted that the true measure of success for the training workshop will be the degree to which participants are able to put their newly acquired knowledge, friendships and experiences to use in the management of their respective sites.
The East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN)
Launched in 1994, EABRN today consists of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Russian Federation (represented by its far eastern Biosphere Reserves).  The principal objective of EABRN is to provide a mechanism for the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) community in East Asia to exchange information and experiences relating to the three main functions of Biosphere Reserves within the sub-region.  The Secretariat for the EABRN has been based at the UNESCO Beijing Office since 2003. Since it was launched, EABRN has organized 13 network meetings and six training courses, as well as supported numerous research and publications initiatives among its members.