Professor Ockie Bosch.
Professor Ockie Bosch. Renee Pilcher

Biosphere: What it means to us

FOR those wondering what on earth it means that the Gympie Region is now involved in a United Nations recognised “Biosphere,” the answer, it seems, is up to all of us.

That was the news from a special information day at Gympie Civic Centre yesterday, organised by Great Sandy Biosphere proponent, the Burnett Mary Regional Group.

BMRG chairman Evelyne Meier told about 30 people at yesterday’s meeting that the idea depended on everyone being involved in planning it, for the benefit of all the interest groups and all the ideals for the future of ourselves and our offspring.

Gympie Regional Council has endorsed the successful plan to have the area from Bundaberg south defined as a Biosphere (right down to its boundary with the previously declared Noosa Region Biosphere), under the definition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The question of what is a Biosphere and who is in charge of it has become a common one since our part of the world was declared one, with some concern about who is in charge of such an entity and the not-quite-democratic nature of its local administrative organisation, the Burnett Mary Regional Group.

Dr Meier told The Gympie Times yesterday that the idea had got off to the usual faltering start, common to big ideas everywhere.

“We need everyone to get involved,” she said. “You can see from today’s meeting that we have people from our generation only.”

That is why, she says, the BMRG has aimed a lot of its publicity at young people and children, in the hope that they would take some of the ideas home and engage their parents in helping plan the future.

“One of the lessons learned from biosphere reserves in the Asia-Pacific Region is that people do not know what it means and are not involved.

“To that end they have organised a school competition to devise a logo.

“We set out to make it a company structure and we realised that was not going to work, so we’ve started again to develop it from the beginning.

“We are not superseding or replacing anything and it is not a new layer of government bureaucracy.

“The Biosphere has no regulatory power,” she said.

So what is it?

“It’s an opportunity,” she said and how it turns out is “up to us.”

“Economic development is important, as are environmental concerns.

“The idea is to have both. You can have a mine in a Biosphere but instead of doing the minimum for the environment, the idea is that you should do more.”

She was supported at yesterday’s information session by the head of the School of Integrative Systems at the University of Queensland, Ockie Bosch and the school’s chair of Systems Thinking and Practice Kambiz Maani.

Prof Bosch said the idea was to put the pieces together to make it work.”

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