Last June, the federal government cut all funding to biosphere reserves in Canada. This was about $60,000 a year, which was being used by the association to fund a coordinator position
Cliff Drysdale, chairman of the association, says it was a disappointing move, but one they have dealt with before. The coordinator position has only existed for about half of the biosphere's 12-year life.
Drysdale says they have had to eliminate the position for now and reorganize how they work. However he says they are looking to fill that role again in other ways.
"We need that capacity to reach our potential I think, to promote Southwest Nova Scotia," he says.
While they work on finding ways to finance a coordinator, Drysdale took over as chairman. A committee structure was put together, with several sub-committees looking after the various aspects. So far, they have an education committee, science and resource management committee, and tourism committee.
Projects on the go
The tourism committee has taken things the furthest so far. Chaired by Donna Hatt, the committee has created a series of 11 video vignettes about the biosphere about market ready visitor experiences in the Region.
"Things that a visitor to the Region could do that would allow them to meet local people and experience the cultural and natural features of the area," says Drysdale of the videos.
Queens County based company The Picture House created the videos, with music provided by Nova Scotian musicians.
The videos were finished last month, and will be posted on the Nova Scotia tourism website, he says. A launch is planned sometime in the Spring.
Another project in the works is a smart phone application. The association is working with the Nova Scotia Community College Centre of Geographic Studies to create an app that shows a map of the biosphere, with towns and other points of interest. Touching those locations would bring up information, pictures and links to things in the area. The videos will eventually be linked to the app as well.
The app is in the last stages now, and Drysdale says they hope to launch the pilot at the end of the month. He adds they would like to expand it in more detail, such as history and businesses, in the future.
In partnership with the Region of Queens, a two page spread was created for the upcoming addition of the Doers and Dreamers, showcasing what the biosphere has to offer.
The association is also involved with the community forest concept the province of Nova Scotia is developing. Drysdale sits on the government advisory group that is developing a set of recommendations and a mandate for the province to create the model.
Drysdale's background is as a science manager and ecologist, and worked at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site for 30 years.
"The challenge is to make sure the land is managed in a way that is environmentally sustainable, and continues to produce the economic well being of the region," he says.
The association is always looking for new members, either as volunteers or for their board of directors. Anyone interested in more information can contact Drysdale at 902-825-4884.