2019 Events


JUNE 12 TO 14, 2019

The 2019 Regional Research Conference brought together individuals conducting research projects or initiatives related to the three pillars of sustainability - Economic, Environmental, and Social and Cultural -- within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region and surrounding areas.

The first Annual Regional Research Conference was hosted by MABRRI from June 12th to 14th at the Parksville Community Conference Centre. Thank you to all of the attendees, speakers, and sponsors who made it a success!

The event started this year in hopes of bringing together people that strive to influence positive change in both practice and policy in the mid-Vancouver Island area. Attendees had the opportunity to connect with local researchers and professionals, as well as learn about the research occurring in their own backyards.

Over the course of the three days, over 100 people attended the event, including 35 breakout room presenters, 3 keynote speakers, and 54 participants in the Traditional Plant Workshop.

Thank you to everyone involved in making the 2019 Regional Research Conference a great one!

Plant Phenology Monitoring Training Session

May 25, 2019

The Plant Phenology Monitoring and Research Project is a collaboration between Milner Gardens & Woodland, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, and Vancouver Island University.

We are studying the relationship between microclimate and plant phenology (or the timing of seasonally reoccurring events, such as bud break and fruit development), and we asked for volunteers to help us do in-person observations on our plant species. We had 11 participants come out to volunteer at this training session, which gave plant enthusiasts an opportunity to learn and share knowledge of native plants with other citizen scientists, students, and researchers.

Essentially, this project aims to understand how shifts in climate may impact plant productivity over time. We have been monitoring 3 sites at Milner Gardens & Woodland since 2017, but we also monitor a site on Mount Arrowsmith and at Thetis Lake Regional Park (Victoria) remotely via field cameras. Collecting in-person data is vital to this project as it allows us to ground-truth what we see on camera. It is also a great way to involve local citizens in hands-on real-life research!


APRIL 13, 2019


On April 13th we conducted the fourth annual MABR BioBlitz! The event was held at Milner Gardens & Woodland in Qualicum Beach.


This event was intended for beginner BioBlitzers that wished to learn how to identify plant and animal species alongside Vancouver Island University students and local knowledge holders with expertise in various fields of natural science. 

Roughly 30 participants and volunteers were involved in capturing this snapshot of flora and fauna, contributing to a growing understanding of the biodiversity of our region.

The MABR BioBlitz 2019 summary report will be available on our website soon!



The Brant Wildlife Festival was a spring celebration as they welcomed thousands of migratory birds, fish and marine mammals to the shores of Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

The festival was jam-packed with fun activities. From birding tours to presentations to carving & art shows- this festival had it all!

For more information, check out their website!


2018 Events

CBRA Fall Gathering

NOVEMBER 20 TO 23, 2018


The 2018 Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA) Fall Gathering was hosted within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. The gathering was an invitation-only event hosted from November 20th to 23rd, and included representatives from each of the 18 Canadian biosphere reserves, members of CBRA's Indigenous circle, members of the MAB committee, CCUNESCO staff, and one representative from each of Canada’s three prospective biosphere reserves.

The event was kicked off with a wonderful opening ceremony by Lawrence Mitchell of Snaw-naw-as First Nation, and workshops for the following three days took place within Qualicum First Nation territory. The focus of the event was to develop a collective and strategic vision for the national UNESCO network of biosphere reserves.

We would like to send a big thank you to CBRA for allowing us to show off our beautiful Biosphere Region! And on behalf of CBRA, we would like to thank the Gold Tier Sponsors that have donated funds or in-kind support in excess of $1,500.00 which help make the event happen: Qualicum First Nation, Snaw-naw-as First Nation, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Vancouver Island University, our staff at Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region, as well as staff of Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute. We would also like to thank our Silver Tier Sponsors who donated funds of in-kind support between $500 and $1,500: The Beach Club Resort, Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and Valerie Pankratz, as well as our Bronze Tier Sponsors who donated funds of in-kind support up to $500: Pacific Brimm Café & Catering, Mont Saint-Hilaire Biosphere Reserve, Greg Mason, Christian Bouchard, Ruth Simons and Anthony Johnston.


2018 MABR bioblitz


On April 21, 2018 we hosted the third annual Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) BioBlitz! Here we conducted a rapid biological survey of plant and animal species at both Milner Gardens & Woodland, and the Englishman River Regional Park/Top Bridge Park Trail Head. To see the MABR BioBlitz 2018 summary report, click here!

Canadian biospheres meeting on Oecms, RECONCILIATION &the pathway to canada target 1

february 20 to 22, 2018

Ottawa, Ontario


On February 20th Chief Michael Recalma (Qualicum First Nation), Councillor Lawrence Mitchell and his daughter Kyrrah (Snaw-Naw-As First Nation) joined our interim coordinator, Ashley Van Acken in Ottawa to review OECMs, Reconciliation and the Pathway to Canada Target 1.

The event was hosted in Ottawa, and involved biosphere reserve representatives, academics, and Indigenous partners from across the country in a series of workshops and knowledge sharing activities to better understand how BR's can contribute to conservation and reconciliation in Canada.


2017 Events

Canadian biospheres agm and Co-Building Reconciliation Conference

June 18 to 22, 2017

Manicouagan-Uapiska Biosphere Reserve - Baie-Comeau, Quebec

What does reconciliation mean to us?

Chief Michael Recalma of Qualicum First Nation and Sarah Lumley, Interim MABR Coordinator, attended the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association (CBRA) and Co-Building Sustainability and Reconciliation Conference.

The event was hosted in the Manicouagan-Uapishka Biosphere Reserve, and involved biosphere reserve representatives, academics, and Indigenous partners from across the country in a series of workshops and knowledge sharing activities to develop an Action Plan on how biosphere reserves can become a driving force for both conservation and reconciliation in Canada.


CBRA Day on the Hill

Monday, May 29

Ottawa, Ontario

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association hosted a special Day on the Hill in Ottawa. The goal was to allow Members of Parliament, Senators, and federal bureaucrats to discover the important role and contributions of Canada’s 18 UNESCO biosphere reserves.
This non-partisan event was co-organized by the MABR's very own Monica Shore with the support of Members of Parliament Gord Johns (BC: Courtenay-Alberni, NDP), Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor (New Brunswick: Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, Liberal), and Robert Sopuck (Manitoba: Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa, Conservative).

Over 100 MPs and Parliamentary Secretaries attended the event. 


Island Tour:

ICCA Tribal Parks & UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

SUNDAY, MAy 6 to Monday, May 8

Vancouver Island, BC

Participants of the 2017 Island Tour

Participants of the 2017 Island Tour

This tour was designed as an activity for participants in the P. E. Trudeau Foundation symposium Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights and the Roles of Ethnoecology and Ethnobotany: Strategies for Canada’s Future, taking place at the University of Victoria from May 2-5, 2017. The tour took place over 3 days. For a full description of the tour, click here.

MABR BioBlitz 2017

APRIL 22, 2017

Over 70 local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge holders helped us count species through an interactive and educational BioBlitz on April 22, 2017. The data we gathered this year contributes to a growing understanding of the biodiversity of our region. An introductory-level session was hosted at Milner Gardens & Woodland in Qualicum Beach and an expert level BioBlitz was held at Oak Leaf Drive Community Park in Nanoose Bay. The final results and data were compiled in a final report by MABRRI, available here.

A special thanks to Vancouver Island University, Milner Gardens & Woodland, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and the Regional District of Nanaimo for making this event possible.

Brant Wildlife Festival: A Spring Celebration of Nature

March 18 to April 17, 2017

Events that celebrate nature take place throughout the region in various locations

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The community-based Brant Wildlife Festival began in the Oceanside Community in 1991. The festival celebrates nature, particularly Brant geese as they rest and feed on the shores of Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The 2017 festival was organized by a local steering committee with the help of TNTBC. Multiple events were hosted between March 18 and April 17. More about the festival here.


APRIL 4 TO 7, 2017

EuroMAB is an extensive network of 302 biosphere reserves in 36 countries. The network gathers every two years to share knowledge and experience and the MABR attended the 2017 gathering in the Dordogne Basin Biosphere Reserve in Sarlat, France.

At EuroMAB 2017, participants worked to define how and with what means the biosphere reserves can contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to multilateral agreements on the environmental agreements (MEA) and to the Paris agreement on climate change. 

The MABR presented on our development and launch of the International Journal of Biosphere Reserves and on our collaboration with Indigenous communities to meet our Reconciliation mandate.


THURSDAY, MARCH 30 AT 6:30PM in Parksville

At this event, attended by over 100 community members and project partners, we celebrated the end of Year 1 of the Amazing Places project and announced plans for Year 2. Promotional and educational materials, as well as great prizes were shared, and the evening refreshments were provided by Pacific Brimm Cafe & Catering. The Amazing Places launch event was hosted by the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region in collaboration with Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism.

To learn more about the MABR's Amazing Places, visit mabr.ca/amazingplaces.



On March 12, 2017, the MABR celebrated Water Day in Parksville, a free, all-day community event at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.

There were workshops, demos, interactive community displays, children’s activities, food vendors, and live music all honouring our precious resource – water.

The MABR hosted an interactive booth with information about the water-related projects coordinated by MABRRI, our research institute at VIU.

Free Public Lecture: Student Research in the MABR

Wednesday, March 1 at 7pm at VIU's Nanaimo Campus

VIU student research assistants from the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI) presented on the work they are pursuing in the region, and how their work aims to increase economic, environmental, and social and cultural sustainability. Student presentations included an overview of the following projects: Wetland Mapping and Monitoring in the RDN, Coastal Forest Plant Phenology Research, Bull Kelp Sample Collection in the Salish Sea, and the 2017 MABR BioBlitz.

Presented by Pamela Shaw, PhD, MABRRI Research Director, and VIU Students Graham Sakaki, Ashley Van Acken, Kayla Harris, Ryan Frederickson, and Kidston Short.

2016 Events


OCTOBER 1, 2016 at SFU's Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Vancouver, BC

Building capacity for collaboration and watershed governance in British Columbia - this was the theme of Watersheds 2016, a two-day event (September 30th & October 1st) on freshwater decision-making in the province of BC. 

On Saturday, October the 1st, MABR Coordinator Monica Shore co-facilitated a session entitled Canadian ICCAs & Biosphere Reserves: Indigenous governance applications for watershed governance innovation. This session explored the application of traditional governance values and principles ‎in a modern context of Watershed governance by looking at emerging trends in collaboration between ICCAs (Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Territories and Areas) and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. These initiatives were be considered through a discussion about reconciliation between diverse communities within Canadian society, and reconciliation between society and the environment. 

Leads: Eli Enns, Regional Coordinator, North America ICCA Consortium and Monica Shore, Coordinator, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region


SEPTEMBER 16 to OCTOBER 7, 2016 at VIU Eldercollege

Class photo on our final day together

Class photo on our final day together

This 4-week course covered a broad introductory curriculum about the UNESCO-designated Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. Students discovered what it means to be a UNESCO biosphere reserve and what makes this particular region so unique. Interactive workshops included mini-lectures, lively discussions, and hands-on activities that explored the diverse relationships between people and nature.

Students identified plant species that can be found in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Students identified plant species that can be found in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Class 1 - Friday, September 16 - “Biosphere Basics”

  • UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

  • History of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR)

  • Introduction to MABRRI, the research institute at VIU

Class 2 - Friday, September 23 - “Amazing Places in the MABR”

  • Canada’s 18 biosphere reserves

  • National initiatives with regional significance

  • Amazings Place in the MABR

Class 3 - Friday, September 30 - “All about Research at MABRRI”

  • Projects and partnerships

  • Community-based research

  • How to get involved

Class 4 - Friday, October 7 - “A Collective Vision of the Region”

  • Envisioning 2030 in the MABR

  • Review through a game of Jeopardy

This course was facilitated by faculty, staff and student researchers from VIU’s Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, including Dr. Pam Shaw, Monica Shore, and Graham Sakaki.

Amazing Places Nomination Period

September 10-30, 2016

Visit mabr.ca/amazingplaces to find out which locations were selected as Amazing Places!


Friday, July 29 - Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

On a beautiful sunny day in the biosphere, we celebrated the 2nd anniversary of MABRRI, VIU's research institute affiliated with the MABR. Staff, student researchers, partners and community members gathered at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park and shared wild biosphere salmon, burgers, cake, and stories. It was a great chance to connect with the community--hopefully an annual affair!

Guest lecture for the nanoose naturalists

Thursday, May 12 - Nanoose Library Hall

MABR staff spoke to members and friends of the Nanoose Naturalists about research being pursued at MABRRI, VIU's research institute dedicated to increasing collective knowledge about the biosphere region. "Nanoose Naturalists is a Vancouver Island naturalist club dedicated to the study, enjoyment, and preservation of our local bio-diverse ecosystems. The Club was founded in 2002 and is one of 53 nature clubs in BC with a total of over 5,000 members. These nature clubs are all affiliated to the Federation of BC Naturalists" (www.nanoosenaturalists.org).

GUEST LECTURE for the friends of french creek

Thursday, April 21 - St. Columbia Presbytarian Church, Parksville

The Friends of French Creek Conservation Society welcomed Monica Shore and Dr. Pam Shaw for a guest lecture on the background of UNESCO biosphere reserves and on the significance of this designation for the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR). We shared highlights from the MABR's history, key changes since the designation in 2000, and information about current projects at MABRRI--our affiliated research institute at Vancouver Island University

Fore more about the Friends French Creek Conservation Society, click here.

MABR 2016 Bioblitz

Sunday, April 17 - Milner Gardens & Woodland, Qualicum Beach

Over 80 people participated in the MABR's 2016 inaugural BioBlitz. Citizens of all ages and scientists come together to count species and contribute to research on biodiversity in the region. The BioBlitz was the final event of the 2016 Brant Wildlife Festival and received sponsorship and in-kind support from the Brant Wildlife Festival, Vancouver Island University, and Milner Gardens and Woodland. 

RDN Water day

Sunday, April 3 - Qualicum Commons, Qualicum Beach

The MABR took part in the region's first Water Day celebrations as part of Canada Water Week. The Regional District of Nanaimo, the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region, First Nations, the City of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island University, and other participating organizations worked together to organize two all-day events in the region that focused on the importance of water. Speakers, workshops, interactive displays, family-friendly activities, and live music were part of the fun.

On April the 3rd at 11:45am in Qualicum Beach, Dr. Pamela Shaw and Monica Shore gave a lecture about the "Interconnectedness of Water and Life in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region."


March 14-17 - Lima, Peru

The goal of the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves was to discuss common issues of sustainable development, economic viability of nature conservation systems, biodiversity, protection and sustainable use of natural resources. Participants explored the challenges faced by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and endorsed a new (Lima) Action Plan for 2016-2025.

The MABR gave three presentations on the following topics: (1) climate research in high alpine areas; (2) biosphere reserve-related curriculum in post-secondary institutions, and; (3) strengths and gaps on existing research about UNESCO biosphere reserves.