Beaver Hills added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves

The Beaver Hills Initiative and its members are pleased to announce that Beaver Hills joined the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves on March 21, 2016.

Beaver Hills joins a global network of more than 600 sites that are internationally recognized for ensuring ecologically sustainable human and economic development. Beaver Hills joins 16 other Canadian biospheres and marks the second biosphere in Alberta.

“The UNESCO Biosphere designation is basically international recognition for all the work that’s been done in this special area to maintain biodiversity and foster ecologically and socio-culturally sustainable human and economic development in this lived-in and working landscape," says Glen Lawrence, Chair of the Beaver Hills Initiative. "We’re looking forward to continuing our work and sharing our research and tools with the public, other biospheres and land use decision makers outside the Beaver Hills."

Located 20 minutes east of Edmonton, Beaver Hills is a distinct landscape covering 1,572 square kilometres of hummocky moraine. The rolling, hummocky hills of the moraine sit about 100 metres higher than the relatively flat lands surrounding it and supports a patchwork of valuable wetlands, small lakes and forested uplands.

Popular destinations in the moraine include Elk Island National Park, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary and the Strathcona Wilderness Centre.

As the national contact for the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program in Canada, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO has provided ongoing strategic guidance for the biosphere designation.

The Beaver Hills Initiative was formed in 2002 after staff at Elk Island National Park recognized a need for regional collaboration to address development and land-use planning within the moraine. Since then, the Beaver Hills Initiative has grown to include more than 20 member organizations, including four local governments (Strathcona County, Lamont County, Beaver County and Leduc County). In addition, the provincial and federal government, local residents, indigenous organizations, non-governmental organizations and academia comprise the list of member organizations.

The Beaver Hills area will remain under local jurisdiction, and member organizations will continue working collaboratively for a sustainable region through shared initiatives and coordinated action.

The Beaver Hills Initiative would like to thank the public for its support for the biosphere nomination. In addition, the Beaver Hills Initiative would like to thank UNESCO for its support and recognition of the Beaver Hills as a place of unique beauty and value that exemplifies how people and communities can live, work and play in harmony with nature.

View the Beaver Hills Initiative's announcement.

View UNESCO's announcement.

Media contact

Kiley Marchuk
Phone: 403-559-7588

This media release is shared from the Beaver Hills Initiative, of which Leduc County is a partner municipality.