Each Biosphere site is intended to fulfill three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions:
- A conservation function: Contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic variation.
- A development function: Foster economic and human development that is socially, culturally and ecologically sustainable.
- A support function: Create a support network of scientists, resource managers and policy makers to assist communities and resource sectors address sustainability issues and concerns.
The biosphere, or sphere of life, is the living layer of the earth, where water flows, plants grow and people live. Biosphere Reserves have specific geographical boundaries and may be completely inland, along the coast or defined by the borders of their natural watersheds. The area of land within a biosphere reserve varies greatly, but is always made up of three basic ‘zones’: the core, the buffer, and the transition area.
The total area of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve is 442,250 hectares in the upper Bay of Fundy coast, stretching from St. Martins to the Tantramar Marsh near Sackville and inland to Moncton.
- Core Area: 20,600 hectares
- Buffer Zone: 26,124 hectares
- Transition Area: 395,552 hectares
The Core Area is a long-term protected area and it acts as a reference point. This area is indicative of the Biosphere Reserve. Core Areas in biosphere reserves usually include securely protected sites for conserving biological diversity, monitoring minimally disturbed ecosystems, as well as undertaking non-destructive research and other low-impact activities (such as education).
Fundy National Park has been selected as the Core Area of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve for several reasons. It is a large contiguous area with a low level of natural or man made disturbance over the past 60 years, it has long-term legal protection under federal legislation and it is dedicated to preserving the ecological integrity of its lands. In addition, there is an open dialogue with adjacent land managers intended to reach reasonable decisions related to mitigating the potential effects of operational projects. It also has an active habitat restoration program that is promoted outside, as well as inside the park.
Buffer Zones typically surround or are adjacent to the Core Area in Biosphere Reserves. They are managed in ways that support the conservation objectives of the Core Area. Buffer Zones may be used for cooperative activities compatible with sound ecological practices, including environmental education, recreation, ecotourism and applied and basic research. These areas also represent a transition in the intensity of land use ranging from legally protected areas to lands that are being intensively managed for resource extraction.
In the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, the Buffer Zone includes all the other protected areas, conservation areas and special management areas that exist in the region. Rationale for inclusion of all protected areas in the Buffer Zone is that most have been in existence for a relatively short time period compared to Fundy National Park. Management strategies for some of these protected Buffer Zones are evolving and there is subjectivity involved in the degree of protection and utilization permitted in the various Buffer Zones.
The outer Transition Areas in Biosphere Reserves usually consists of communities that support sustainable development. Transition Areas act as areas of cooperation.
The Transition Area in the Fundy Biosphere Reserve is made up of provincial Crown lands, federal Crown lands, large industrial freehold forest lands, small private woodlots, agricultural and dyked marshlands, municipalities, roads, highways and energy corridors.
The ecosystems of the Bay of Fundy were subject to a wide variety of human-influences that brought about significant change in the landscape, distribution of species, and supply of habitat for those species. The primary objective of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, in terms of its Transition Area, is to create a multi-sector forum to facilitate the analyses of changes and potential environmental consequences. Developing and sharing knowledge across resource sectors helps to plan for the conservation and restoration of native biodiversity. Communities are also encouraged to use and manage resources in a sustainable manner.