Creating a Community-led, Grassroots Organization

The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere has transitioned to a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization. The purpose of this transition was to better connect the community and stakeholders with the biosphere and create a sense of shared responsibility among these groups. Among the Biosphere’s many objectives, education remains one of the most prioritized efforts; to engage with the public and promote awareness of ecology and environmental issues along the Niagara Escarpment. To further the goals of the Biosphere, engagement with the public regarding education on conservation efforts and sustainable development has been identified as a priority.

As a result, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network was established to support the management of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere as a community-led, grassroots organization that will work to meet the criteria and standards required by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Significant progress is underway to ensure the sustainability of the UNESCO designated Niagara Escarpment Biosphere that currently runs west from Niagara, and then north to Tobermory, extending some 725+ kilometres. Supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Indigenous non-governmental organization Plenty Canada is partnering, nurturing, and assisting in the development of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network.

The Niagara Escarpment Commission transferred its role and responsibilities related to the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere to a Transition Leadership Committee in 2019. The Committee then began working directly with Plenty Canada to reactivate the work necessary to meet UNESCO criteria and obligations regarding the stewardship of biosphere reserves.

Part of the rationale by UNESCO for directing a renewed Niagara Escarpment Biosphere organizational model was that it was no longer appropriate to have oversight nested within a government agency, namely the Niagara Escarpment Commission. In 2021, the Transition Leadership Committee and Plenty Canada signed a memorandum-of-understanding to work together on developing this new co-governance structure. Work has progressed well and in March 2022, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network became officially incorporated under provincial regulations.

The Network is now the official entity that is working on the mandate and designation of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere.